Monday, May 28, 2018

Sautéed Fiddleheads

sautéed fiddleheads
"Crunchy, yet satisfying." This is what Peter said as he tasted these fiddleheads, attempting to quote the Lion King scene where Pumbaa slurps up a worm and says, "Slimy, yet satisfying." He was close. Lucky for you, these are not slimy, but boy are they satisfying.

fiddleheads on a cutting board

There are many types of edible fiddleheads around the world. However, the fiddleheads in my area are the furled fronds of a young ostrich fern. Fiddleheads feel like such a Mainer thing, but as I read more about them, I realized we share the ostrich fronds find with Canada. The Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, and Penobscot peoples of Eastern Canada and Maine traditionally harvested fiddleheads, and they remain a traditional dish in these regions. I still say it's a Maine thing, meheheh. Just let me have this moment.

Fiddleheads have a short season—really only a few weeks in the spring—so when you see them at the Farmer's market or at your grocery store, GRAB 'EM!

fiddleheads and garlic
I also just learned from good ol' Wikipedia that "when picking fiddleheads, it is recommended to take only half the tops per plant/cluster for sustainable harvest. Each plant produces several tops that turn into fronds; repeated over-picking will eventually kill the plant. Maintaining sustainable harvesting methods is important in the propagation of any non-farmed food species."
sautéed fiddleheads

This is a great tip, as I still have yet to harvest my own (I feel like such a poser). When I finally do harvest my own fiddles, I picture Paul Bunyanesque lumberjacks surrounding me and knighting me as a true Mainer.

Until then, I will continue whipping up these "crunchy, yet satisfying" fiddles as if they were my own harvest, and enjoying this fleeting delicacy of spring!

sautéed fiddleheads

Sautéed Fiddleheads
serves: 4 prep time: 5 min cook time: 8 minutes (**note: do not undercook fiddleheads or eat raw, as they can cause symptoms of foodborne illness!) 
  • 1 lb fiddleheads 
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 2 T unsalted butter 
  • 1-2 T white wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/4 of a lemon 
washing fiddleheads

Place the fiddleheads in a bowl of water and swish around well. Drain and repeat until the brown papery “scales” have washed away. I like to finish with one good spray of water. I purposely do not dry them at this point, as I use the moisture to help steam them.

trimming fiddleheads

Lay the fiddleheads out on a cutting board and cut away the brown ends of the stems (this really isn't that necessary but it looks prettier).

sautéing fiddleheads

Heat a pan on med-high heat for a couple of minutes. Drizzle in 1/2 T of the olive oil. Add the fiddleheads and stir to coat.

Turn heat to medium, cover, and steam the fiddleheads for 4 minutes. Uncover, add remaining olive oil and stir.

sautéing fiddleheads and garlic

Set a time for 4 minutes (I know, very specific). Move the fiddleheads to the edge of the pan, add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Now move the fiddleheads back into the middle, and toss everything together. Continue to sauté until there are 2 minutes left on your timer.

sautéing fiddleheads and garlic with butter

Swirl in the butter, add the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté.

Turn off the heat and taste for additional vinegar.

sautéing fiddleheads
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the lovelies and serve!

sautéed fiddleheads

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