Preparation of gobou is the same for all three dishes. The only difference is the shape of the pieces. I first halved the length of gobou since it is rather long and awkward to handle. Under running water, using the back of a vegetable cleaver or nakiri 菜切り包丁, I scraped off the dark skin. Depending on which dish I was making I cut the pieces differently but as soon as I cut the pieces, I soaked them in acidulated (with rice vinegar) water. Before using, I washed the pieces in cold water and dried them well using paper towels.
1. Soma-age 杣揚げ
The first one below is called "soma-age". "Soma" 杣 means wood or lumber cut from a mountain and the resemblance of this dish to the name-sake is rather obvious. I somehow remembered this dish from the depth of my memory (old drinking snack cook book*). It is like tempura but buckwheat flour or sobako そば粉 is used, which gives a nice crunchy texture and nutty flavor to this dish. It is a variation of gobou karaage 牛蒡の唐揚げ but it is different enough to warrant a different name.
I cut the gobou into 2 inch long pieces and then halved it lengthwise. I then placed the cut side down and sliced it rather thinly (2-3 mm or 1/5 inch) lengthwise. The central pieces were too wide so I cut them in half again lengthwise producing match sticks of gobou. After soaking them in acidulated water for 10 minutes, I washed them in fresh cold water, then patted them dry with paper towels.
Batter: I used buckwheat flour (2-3 tbs) and a pinch of salt. I added enough cold water to make a rather thick batter.
Frying: I individually coated the gobou sticks and deep fried them in 340F peanut oil for one minute or until done and drained them over several layers of paper towels.
This is best eaten while hot. The buckwheat crust and fried gobou are indeed a winning combination. We like this variation better than kara-age, although both are excellent Izakaya food.
*Later, I located this old cook book of drinking snacks by Shino Ikenami 池波志乃 called "Drinking snacks extraordinary" or 酒肴とびっきり and looked up the dish I made. It turns out I was actually, combining two of her recipes; one is tempura of "mountain" vegetables 山菜 using buckwheat flour batter and another is the original form of this dish; "gobou no soma-age" 牛蒡の杣揚げ, in which she used regular tempura batter. Although no new printing is being produced, surprisingly, this book (used) is still available (It was published in 1983).
２．gobou chips 牛蒡チップス
This is rather straight forward. I just sliced gobou on a slant rather thinly (paper thin). After soaking in acidulated water, I rinsed them and then patted them dry with paper towels. I simply deep fried the pieces for less than a minute in 320-330F peanut oil until brown and crispy turning once. While it was draining on the paper towel, I sprinkled on kosher salt.
3 Stir fried "Kimpira" burdock root 金平牛蒡
This is by far the most popular preparation of gobou. It is a classic and still excellent. I have posted this before and will not repeat myself.
Somehow this was a perfect wine with the gobou dishes. This red particularly went swimmingly with the "soma-age" burdock. Although I had to admit, these dishes will go well with beer or sake as well.