Thursday, May 13, 2010


We were super excited to open our box yesterday and find ... fiddleheads!

But despite the shouts of glee that accompanied the surprise in this week's box, none of us had ever eaten or prepared fiddleheads before.

To the Internet!

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension factsheet says:
Thoroughly wash fiddleheads in clean, potable water several times until the wash water appears clean. Then bring a small amount of lightly salted water to a boil, add washed fiddleheads, and cook them at a steady boil for 10 minutes. Fiddleheads can also be washed clean and steamed for 20 minutes. Serve at once with melted butter or vinegar.
(Because of some cases of food-borne illness linked to fiddleheads, it's not recommended to eat them raw or lightly cooked.)

A Montreal Gazette article advocates simplicity in serving:
The smaller, and therefore younger, fiddleheads have milder flavour; big ones can be bitter, although it's a pleasant kind of bitterness. The easiest way to serve this food is to sizzle up the cooked fiddleheads in a pan of melted butter just until they are reheated, then drizzle them with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
And it describes fiddleheads as "little, deep green curls that taste something like asparagus with -- say flavour specialists -- a dash of green beans and okra." (Another, more rhapsodic, writer describes the taste as "like a fresh, crispy green bean that had married and produced offspring with an asparagus sprout.")

We took the simplest route, steaming the fiddleheads for 15 minutes, then serving them with melted butter, lemon juice, and salt. And we got the asparagus flavor, but also, perhaps suggested by our ersatz hollandaise, found them reminiscent of artichoke hearts.

For those looking to do something fancier, our old standby, Epicurious, offers a steamed fiddleheads recipe and a "spring vegetable ragout" including fiddleheads, baby peas and carrots, and morels (a bit precious for my taste), as well as a bibimbap with optional (preserved) fiddlehead stems.

The New York Times has a Thai stir-fried fiddlehead recipe today in which the author, in excellent world-weary Manhattanite fashion, revises his opinion of being SO OVER fiddleheads.

NorCliff Farms, a major fiddlehead producer, offers numerous recipes. And our neighbor, Tiny Urban Kitchen, has some recent lovely fiddlehead photos.


  1. I was skeptical of these little guys when I pulled them out of my share. I dumped about half our bag into a Thai rice dish I make as a stand-in for bell peppers (which we don't like). Awesome! I had read that they are good in Asian stir fries, so that's where I'm going with the rest of the bag. I was pleasantly surprised at how good these were!

    Here's to funky vegetables and learning how to use them!

  2. Hear, hear, Kyan! I was advocating for trying the New York Times Thai recipe, but we decided simpler was better for our first time. Glad to hear they go well in Asian dishes, too. (Do you think the ferns used in Asian recipes are different from our Canada/New England variety?)

  3. I have them slated to accompany some miso-marinated chicken in a stir fry tonight. They're so good, I'll actually venture into Whole Foods to see if I can find more. And if you knew how much I hated Whole means them fiddleheads is good! :-)

  4. I made this recipe last night with the farmshare fiddleheads and it was wonderful:

    I boiled the fiddleheads for 10 minutes before sauteing them, and I used 1% milk instead of half and half and it turned out great.