There are a few things that have such a short season, at least in our area, that I just about scream and dance a jig when I see them. Rhubarb is one; fiddlehead ferns are another. We've foraged fiddleheads a few times, but whenever I see them in the markets or a store, I scoop up as many as I can.
When I decided to cook my own birthday feast, and not go out to eat, I spotted these at the store and squealed in delight! If you're lucky enough to find them, you can cook them as you would asparagus. I opted to do an Asian-inspired sauté.
What are fiddleheads? Besides being a harbinger of Spring, they are the tightly curled fronds of a young fern. They are bright green, have a snappy texture, and have a grassy, woodsy taste. R commented that they taste "like the bottom of a redwood forest." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but that's kinda grassy and woodsy.
Before you cook them, you might need to do a little bit of prep. Wash the fiddleheads and remove any brown fur or fluffy "skin" and trim off any browned ends. Now, you're set...
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 pound fiddlehead ferns
- 1 T gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 1 t toasted sesame oil
- black sesame seeds for garnish, approximately 2 t
- flower petals for garnish, optional
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add the fiddlehead ferns and cook, stirring, until the fiddleheads are bright green and crisp-tender, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil, and blaxk sesame seeds, tossing to coat completely. Spoon fiddleheads into a serving bowl and garnish with flower petals, if using. Serve immediately.