- May 18, 2009 1:42 PM |
- By Jessica Wong
By Jessica Wong, CBC News
When spring finally comes along, I'm always happy to see local produce turning up in the market. In recent years, the little, alien-looking fiddleheads have attracted my attention — they're even offered in some large grocery stores nowadays — but I'd never tried them. Inspired by a colleague waxing poetic about the springtime treat in her Facebook status last week, I decided to take the plunge.
Fiddleheads are a springtime delicacy, only available for a short window of time. (Jessica Wong/CBC).
Described in taste and texture as a cross between a green bean, asparagus stalk and broccoli stem, fiddleheads are the edible shoots of the ostrich fern, harvested while still young and unfurled. Though available in different provinces, they're a delicacy I've heard most often associated with Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick in particular.
Part of my reticence to the tiny stalks — don't they look straight out of some fairy-tale book? — came from the whiff of danger surrounding the tender veg: raw, they contain a type of natural toxin that, if the fiddleheads are not cooked adequately, will make eaters quite ill.
After scooping up a half-pound at the market (and receiving few helpful guidelines from the duo of giggling young cashiers), I began scouring the web for recipes. Did I want a fiddlehead stir-fry, fiddleheads tossed with pasta or maybe a fiddlehead omelette? Twittering for suggestions also provided some valuable advice (Thanks to @ahildebrandt and @auntlisa). After a bit of contemplation, I figured simple would be best, at least for my first time. After trimming the stalks a bit, I gave the fiddleheads a five-minute blanch, a quick shock in ice-water and then sautéed them in garlic and butter.
The fiddleheads looked lovely next to the mound of garlic mashed potatoes and slices of rib-eye steak I served alongside. A forkful of delicate, green fiddlehead did taste like a taking a bite of spring as well as being a satisfying reward for expanding my produce horizons. Consider me a fiddlehead convert.
Have you ever tried fiddleheads? How do you like to prepare them? What inspires you to try a new fruit, vegetable or another type of food?
All News blogs
- Food in times of sorrow
- In spring, a doctor discovered that my grandfather had glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest and most aggressive primary brain tumour. As he battled the tumour over the following months, it was food that connected the family and allowed him to still 'live' instead of merely survive. Later on,... Continue reading this post
- Going deep in Chicago
- No, I’m not talking the Chicago Cubs, I’m talking Pizzaria Uno, creator of the original deep dish pizza.... Continue reading this post
- Q&A with Khalil Akhtar, host of The Main Ingredient
- The Main Ingredient is one of CBC Radio's new summer programs. It's an inside look on the food we grow, buy and eat. In a Q&A, host Khalil Akhtar took the time to discuss his relationship with food and why... Continue reading this post