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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fiddlehead Ferns

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
From Wikipedia:
Fiddlehead ferns grow wild in wet areas of Northeastern North America in spring. Fiddleheads are a traditional dish of northern New England (especially Maine) in the United States, and of Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes in Canada. They are typically steamed or boiled before being eaten hot, with hollandaise sauce, butter and lemon or vinegar, or chilled, in salad or with mayonnaise.
The government says: To cook fiddleheads, remove the yellow/brown skin, then boil the sprouts twice with a change of water between boilings. Removing the water reduces the bitterness and the content of tannins and toxins.

The cooking method recommended by gourmets is to spread a thin layer in a steam basket and steam lightly, just until tender crisp. Fiddleheads are available in the market for only a few weeks in springtime, and are fairly expensive. Fiddleheads contain various vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are a source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. They are low in sodium, but rich in potassium, which may make them suitable for people who need a low-sodium diet. They taste like asparagus or green beans with a slightly bitter edge, have a short shelf life and are very expensive so if you get them cook and eat them immediately. Here’s another way to cook them:

Dan Kluger’s Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns

4 cups fiddlehead ferns
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
4 tbs. thinly sliced green garlic (white and light-green part only)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lemons (1 for zesting, 1 cut into 4 wedges)

Coarse sea salt, for finishing

Preheat oven to 500°F. Trim away any brown or woody ends from the fiddleheads. Wash them thoroughly in several changes of water, removing any papery husks, and dry them. Place a large oven-safe skillet or sauté pan in the oven, and heat for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and add the oil. Add the fiddleheads to the pan and season with kosher salt. Return the pan to the oven, and cook the fiddleheads until tender, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green garlic, toss with the fiddleheads, and cook in the oven for 30 more seconds. Remove the pan from the oven. Divide the fiddleheads among four plates and finish with pepper, lemon zest, and sea salt. Serve with lemon wedges.