Forage: How to source wild fiddleheads — and transform this springtime delicacy into a delicious snack
Chef Shawn Adler shows how to make the most of these elusive edibles while they’re in season
Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler has been harvesting wild edibles since his mother first showed him how as a child. In each episode of Forage, he teaches us how to source in-season ingredients from our own backyards and sustainably forage them, before turning them into a delicious dish we can make and devour in our own kitchens.
Wild fiddleheads are a fleeting delicacy that signify that spring has arrived for many in parts of Ontario, Quebec and on the East Coast of Canada. And while these furled fronds may be gone in a flash, they’re very versatile, so you can enjoy them in a multitude of ways during their short season. In this episode of Forage, chef Shawn Adler demonstrates how to properly identify wild fiddleheads, the stage of growth at which they're edible, and how to safely and sustainably harvest them. Then, he shows how to turn them into a beer-battered Fiddlehead Tempura. Check out the video above to learn all about them, then scroll down for the recipe that transforms these elusive edibles into a crispy, delicious snack.
By Shawn Adler
Note: When harvesting fiddleheads, ensure that the fern is tightly coiled close to the earth. If the fern is beginning to unfurl and has grown several inches above the soil it is no longer edible, and is poisonous. Do not under-cook fiddleheads, as they can cause food poisoning.
- 4 cups fresh fiddleheads
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 cups (1 pint) pilsner beer
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Begin by washing the fiddleheads in cold water to remove any debris as well as the papery covering. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the fiddleheads for 10 minutes or so and then shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Heat a large pot filled halfway up with vegetable oil to 350˚F.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt and pepper. Pour in the egg and beer and whisk until smooth and lump free.
Coat each fiddlehead in the batter and then carefully drop into the frying oil. Fry until crisp and golden. Remove from the oil and let drain on a plate covered with some paper towel. While still warm, season with salt and enjoy!