Burdock - 牛蒡
It is definitely an acquired taste. When you chew on a piece of raw burdock, the strong woody and herbal taste is almost overwhelming. In some supermarket, these burdock can be found packed in pairs in bags that may be fully half a metre long. In Japan, burdock is a favourite vegetable that is widely used in soup or added to stews. Burdock is believed to be antibiotic and antipyretic. It also lowers blood sugar and there are claims that it is anticarcinogenic. Eg: Korean Chicken Soup
Blanching the Burdock will remove its pungency and also soften it to a nice crunchiness. To avoid roots that are too fibrous, choose burdock that is lighter coloured and make sure the growth rings are not too dark. Look at its cross-section to check this.
Fresh Chestnuts - 鲜栗子
Choose Fresh Chestnuts that are smooth and glossy, free of blemishes. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid any that are shriveled, cracked, or rattle in their shell. Shake the shell. If you hear movement, you know they are drying out. Fresh chestnuts will dry out easily, so keep them in a cool, dry place free of drafts and use within a week.
To facilitate removal of the shell, you'll need to use a sharp pointed knife to slice either a horizontal slash or a large X along the flat side before roasting or boiling. To boil, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat. Scoop out a few at a time and peel off the shell and skin with a sharp knife. As they cool, they become more difficult to peel, so keep them in hot water until you are ready to peel. Eg: Braised Yam & Chestnut With Chicken