While we haven’t been traveling much, this spring it’s been one of my favourites. I’ve really learned to appreciate Canadian spring and foraging edible plants. It’s been a lot of fun serving new dishes on the Loka Snacks menu like this fiddleheads recipe.
What are Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are the uncurled frond of a fern. If you leave it they unroll into a fern, if you harvest it young you can eat it – nature is amazing.
The name fiddlehead is because it looks like the end of a fiddle, in French it’s têtes de violon, in Japan it’s warabi and in Hawaii pohole.
Where Do You Find Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are available in the spring and most commonly found throughout New England, Eastern regions of Canada but also Hawaii, Indonesia, India, Nepal and Japan.
We’ve been lucky enough to find them foraging, we popped into the forest looking for morels and while we didn’t find any morels we did find a big patch of fiddleheads. If you live in an area that has fiddleheads you may find them at a farmer’s market but you have to get there early.
If you’re foraging fiddleheads you should bring a field guide with you as it’s not possible to eat all ferns. You can eat the Ostrich variety but some toxic varieties look similar. A good guide will show you the differences including one of the defining aspects of the ostrich fern, which is a celery-like groove along the stem. As always in foraging, when in doubt don’t eat it.
Only the small, young fiddleheads are edible so look for some that are 4 inches tall. You’ll find them in groups of six or more close to the ground with a paper-bag like covering on the coils. To sustain the population never pick all of the fiddleheads in a bunch or the plant will die, the general guideline for foraging is 25%.
What do Fiddleheads Taste Like
It’s a tough flavour to describe, most people say somewhere between asparagus, broccoli and spinach, green beans. In essence it tastes like a green vegetable.
How to Cook Fiddleheads
Never eat fiddleheads raw. While there is much debate over their toxicity level if you eat them raw at best you’ll have an upset stomach.
Fiddleheads can be used just like any other green vegetable and so you can look for a fiddleheads recipe or just substitute them in your favourite green recipe. In Hawaii you can find pohole parboiled with tomatoes, onion and smoked salmon. In Indonesia it’s found in a coconut sauce with spices. In Nepal it’s common to cook it in clarified butter. It’s really a versatile plant.
When you get home rub off the brown paper-like shell and gently rinse the fiddleheads and pack in paper towel. Raw fiddleheads will last in your fridge a week, if you blanch them they’ll only last three days and turn black. They freeze pretty well but we like to pickle ours, they have a really interesting flavour.
Why You Should Eat Fiddleheads
Like most greens, fiddleheads are full of antioxidants, Vitamin A and C, niacin iron and fibre; they’re a also a great source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Beer Battered Fiddleheads Recipe with Kimchi Mayo
What we love about this fiddleheads recipe is that deep frying fiddleheads in a beer batter brings out a creamy flavour in this spring plant. We made a quick kimchi mayo using the ramp kimchi we made last week. If you don’t have homemade kimchi you could just substitute store bought.
If you still have ramps this batter also works for the battered ramps/wild garlic
What’s your favourite fiddleheads recipe? Let me know in the comments below!