I’m lucky enough to live in a town that, in season, has a buzzing farmer’s market. Most of my vegetables come from my crop share, but for a few things, like mushrooms and unusual items like fiddleheads, I hit the farmer’s market. This week was the first farmer’s market of the season, and with it came lots of spring things, my favorite of which was these fiddleheads.
Fiddleheads are the young, green shoots of ferns that are harvested in the early spring. They are typically foraged, but cooks should proceed with caution as some ferns are poisonous. That said, it’s best to get your fiddleheads from an expert forager at your local farmer’s market. Uncooked fiddleheads have been known to cause food-borne illness, so it’s important to cook them through. In my opinion, fiddleheads have a mild and nutty asparagus-type flavor, thus they pair well with similar flavors as asparagus does. Aside from being a tasty spring treat that’s only available for a breath of time, part of the charm and appeal of the fiddlehead is it’s beauty. Like their namesake, their appearance mimics that of the scroll on top of a fiddle or violin. I feel that much of their beauty lies in the fact that they are one of nature’s elaborate displays of the Golden Mean.
Today’s recipe for Brown Sugar Miso Fiddleheads is sweet and savory. Because of their scarcity and expense, I served them in small portions as an appetizer – a delectable spring treat! For readers in the Philadelphia area, I got my fiddleheads at the Lansdale Farmer’s Market from the expert growers and foragers at Mainly Mushrooms.
Brown Sugar Miso Fiddleheads
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes
- 1/2 lb fiddleheads
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp white miso
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
1. Wash and pat dry your fiddleheads. Once dried, cut the brown ends off and immediately place in a pot of water to prevent re-browning. (It’s best to store your fiddleheads in the refrigerator in a bowl of water until you’re ready to use them. This will also serve to clean them.)
2. Bring your fiddleheads to a boil and gently boil for 3-4 minutes, then immediately remove them from the hot water and submerge in cold water to stop further cooking.
3. Mix together brown sugar, white miso, rice vinegar, ginger, and water until smooth, and set aside. I used frozen ginger to save on prep time.
4. In a pan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat, then add the fiddleheads. Sauté 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and miso mixture to the pan and cook for an another 2 minutes until the sauce becomes bubbly and thick.
5. Garnish with black sesame seeds and serve immediately.