VIDEO: Try Japanese beef and burdock root for a lucky new year

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

VIDEO: Try Japanese beef and burdock root for a lucky new year

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

In Japan, every New Year we eat a variety of foods which form part of the Osechi Ryori (or New Year’s foods) meant to bring us good luck, health and happiness. Goubou-no-nikumaki, a rolled slice of beef with burdock root at the center, is one of the popular dishes in the Osechi lineup.

Burdock is a reminder of the grain harvest because it’s black and elongated appearance resembles the Japanese crane, which comes flying when a rich harvest is gathered. The rolled dish includes burdock because it is eaten with the hope that happiness will last long like burdock grows.

Depending on where you’re celebrating the New Year, burdock and meat rolls have a different name. On the mainland, it’s called yawatamaki, after Yawata City in Kyoto Pref. On Okinawa, not only is its name different – it’s called Gunboumaki— but, so is its secondary ingredient – pork instead of beef.

Just recently, I had a chance to try the Okinawan version following a recipe I found in an old cookbook at home. I happened to also have carrots on hand, so I modified the recipe to include them. The recipe was simple enough even for a first-timer like me. The only challenge was peeling the skins of the burdock roots, but once the prep work was done, the rest of the cooking went smoothly.

As the rolls simmered in a broth of sugar, cooking sake and mirin sweet cooking rice wine, the delicious scent spread throughout the kitchen. I couldn’t resist giving one a try before they were fully cooked. One bite and the savory juices exploded over my taste buds. The well-seasoned and tender ingredients were delectable — no wonder this is also a popular item for kids’ bento boxes year-round. This is a great option or those easing into Japanese cuisine, plus the veggies and pork or beef are a good source of nutrients.

Cornbread, peas, soba, mochi and beans are also popular ingredients used in New Year’s dishes. But, make sure to include some burdock, carrots and pork or beef for good health and good luck in 2023!

Ingredients for Gunboumaki (Okinawan style roll of pork, burdock, and carrot for four people)

  • (Sliced) Pork loin 600g
  • Burdock 220g
  • Carrot 450g
  • Water 600cc
  • Sugar 100 cc
  • Liquor (cooking sake) 100 cc
  • Soy sauce 67cc
  • Salt (a little)
  • Mirin/sweet cooking rice wine (a little)


1. Rinse and wash off burdock, then peel skins. Rinse carrots.

2. Slice burdock and carrots into small pieces. Make sure each piece will match the width of sliced pork.

3. Boil sliced burdock and carrot in hot water for about 3 minutes each.

4. Roll burdock and carrot with one (or two) slice of pork loin. (You can use a toothpick to secure the rolls if necessary)

5. Place the rolls in a deep pan. then add 100cc water to cover the rolls and boil for 5 minutes.

6. After the initial cooking process, add 500cc of water, 100cc of cooking sake, 100cc of sugar, 67cc of soy sauce to the pan. Loosely put a lid on the pot and lower the heat and simmer between 30 minutes to 1 hour.

7. Add soy sauce, mirin/sweet cooking rice wine, and condiment to perfect the flavor to your taste. (You can do this in step No. 6 as well before simmering)

8. Once they’re tender, remove them from the pan and slice into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!

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