Updated: Nov 30, 2018
Fiddlehead ferns are given their name because of their resemblance to the head of a fiddle. While there are some physical differences between a fiddle and a violin, generally a fiddle is used when folk music is being played, while a violin is used when it pertains to classical music.
DISCOVER: Health Savvy Tips
Fiddleheads are the furled fronds (sprouts) of young ferns. There are several varieties of ferns, not all of which are edible. The Ostrich Fern is the most commonly eaten fiddlehead variety as it has the lowest toxin levels and the best flavor, which has been described as a cross between asparagus, broccoli, and artichoke – personally, I find that fiddleheads taste most like asparagus! Other edible fiddlehead varieties include the Cinnamon and the Vegetable Fern
Keep an eye out for fiddleheads at the beginning of Spring. You can still find them later into Spring, but it’ll be hard pickings. Look for fiddleheads that are bright green and tightly coiled with short stems, 1 – 2 inches long at most. You can also gather your own fiddleheads if you know exactly what to look for; you don’t want to make the mistake of picking one of the inedible varieties! The University of Maine has a great fact sheet on fiddleheads and how to harvest them.
Fiddleheads are rich in Vitamins A and C. They are a source of omegas-3 and -6, antioxidants, iron, and protein – 100 grams of fiddleheads has 5 grams of protein, roughly the same amount as 100 grams of nori seaweed. Fiddleheads are also a low cholesterol and low sodium vegetable, making them an excellent choice for persons on a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
CREATE: Flavour Complements
Fiddlehead ferns have a bitter taste, which salty notes help to balance. Try:
Cheeses: parmesan and goat cheese go well
Finishing salts: crunchy Himalayan Pink and fragrant Fleur de Sel are fantastic
Meats: Charcuterie meats like prosciutto – Tip: think of what goes nicely with asparagus
Other: wild mushrooms, like morels; brown butter (beurre noisette); shallots; lemon and sherry vinegar.
PLATE: The SCC Twist
The SCC Twist for this dish was using an unusual food. Fiddleheads are considered quite a delicacy due to their seasonal brevity and unique taste. I also took advantage of making fiddleheads as an Amuse Bouche, getting inspiration from one of my fave chefs, Rick Tramonto!
Foods highlighting fiddleheads can be difficult to wine-pair. Try Greco di Tufo, which is a delicious white and a go-to for fickle foods. Its nutty aroma and sharp citrusy taste is perfect with this amuse bouche, which has the nutty-tasting brown butter and lobster!
Visit here for more info on the safety of fiddleheads.