Sunday, May 22, 2011
Last week I noticed the first fiddlehead ferns at the Union Square greenmarket. I couldn’t resist purchasing them.
Just Picked Fiddlehead Ferns
Fiddleheads epitomize spring at its most fleeting – they are available a mere three to four weeks locally. If you want to play with these furled fronds, get them soon; consider a visit to a local market at least in the next two weeks, or you’ll be too late and will have to wait until next year. The ferns actually started showing up in Whole Foods a few weeks earlier than they did at the greenmarket; the ones at Whole Foods are are probably imported from Maine, since those have a bit of a longer season, lasting from April through May.
Fiddleheads are from the Ostrich fern, and have a brown papery scaly covering (they remind me of bonito flakes) the uncoiled fern. The ostrich fern is a wild food found in wet areas: on the banks of river, steams, and brooks. Their flavor is a cross between that of asparagus and artichoke.
Ready to be Washed
For my preparation, I soaked these in water to dislodge the papery coverings. Honestly, I never did see ferns with the coverings before this year, and I’ve been cooking these delicate scrolls for years. The coverings made these specimens seem fresher and just-foraged. Make sure to pick off any papery bits that don’t dislodge in the water (this job is a bit “fiddly”), then steam or boil the ferns before cooking or dressing further.
Dislodging the Papery Covering
I paired these babies with smoked mackerel, sautéed red onions and slivered ramps for a delicious breakfast this week. Viva la primavera!
Fiddleheads, Smoked Mackerel, Ramps, and Onions
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