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Fiddleheads

April 10, 2010

The first fresh greens of the season are out!

Fiddleheads are popping up in damp, wooded areas.  Pick your own or find a farm, CSA, or co-op that sells them.  Some gourmet or locavore friendly grocery stores may also carry them.  I found my bounty on a walk.  If you do pick your own, make sure to leave plenty of ferns unharvested to ensure their survival & reproduction.

As some outbreaks of illness have been associated with raw or lightly cooked fiddleheads, I opted to boil them for 10 minutes and then fry them with onions and mushrooms.

  • about 1 ½ cups fresh fiddleheads
  • 1 onions, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups crimini, baby bella or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3+ Tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • salt to taste
  • cider vinegar, lemon juice, or rice vinegar, about 2 Tablespoons

Rinse fiddleheads well, removing all the papery brown skin from them.  Swishing them in a bowl of cold water is more effective than running water and a colander.

Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil, salting if desired.  Add fiddleheads.  Boil 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, head butter in frying pan.  When melted, add onions and fry until softened and beginning to turn translucent.  Add mushrooms.  Salt.  Cover with lid and allow to steam  & cook down for 3-5 minutes.  Uncover and fry, allowing juices to evaporate.  If mushrooms are soft & cooked before fiddleheads are finished boiling, remove from heat.

When fiddleheads are ready, reheat the frying pan, adding another tablespoon or so of butter if necessary (mushrooms can be greedy and absorb all of it on you) and fry for a few minutes.  Just before you pull them off the heat, hit them with the vinegar or lemon juice and cook that down.

I served the fiddleheads, mushrooms, and onions with garlic mashed potatoes and tofu fried in peanut oil, then splashed with tamari and mirin (cooking rice wine).

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2010 3:12 pm

    Wow! This is a wonderful treat, I love your photos…I’m keeping my eyes peeled for these beauties.

  2. April 12, 2010 4:26 pm

    I really want to try these fiddleheads. I have heard of them for awhile now. I’m not sure whether I can find at farmer markets in Toronto this spring. I think I need to hunt them down now!

    • April 13, 2010 7:16 am

      Alisa–Thanks! Fiddleheads are a lovely & rare treat, so I try to pounce on them when I see them.

      Fa–Definitely keep hunting. This Toronto blog has a list of farmerk’s markets. It’s a couple years out of date, but might be a good starting point.

      Good luck to both of you. I hope you find some fiddleheads!

      • May 8, 2010 3:20 pm

        I just found the fiddleheads today at St. Lawrence’s farmer market. I’m going to try them tomorrow night. So excited!

  3. April 13, 2010 4:41 am

    A very interesting plant!
    This turkey does not grow.

    • April 13, 2010 7:34 am

      The fiddlehead fern is really interesting. The flavor is somewhat like asparagus or artichokes (maybe somewhere in between?). The ostrich fern is what’s normally harvested in North America for fiddleheads. What part of the world are you in?

  4. April 22, 2010 4:26 pm

    I just tried fiddleheads for the first time yesterday- love them! I simply steamed mine, but I’d love to try this recipe the next time I get my hands on some.

    • April 22, 2010 5:17 pm

      Steamed is the perfect way to try fiddleheads for the first time–you can really bite into that unique, green, spring-y taste. Fiddleheads are also good with a bit of lemon juice squeezed on at the very end, the way you would with asparagus.

      My harvest has all unfurled, so no more for me until next year.

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