My heart races and my face feels flushed when I see unique ingredients that have short seasonal lives at the public market. I will eventually write a post about Granville Island Public Market to entice you all to move to Vancouver. I jump on those opportunities and even over-do it sometimes (e.g. mangoes?! Still eating several everyday). So when I saw fiddleheads, I knew my dinner menu had to make room.
Fiddleheads are baby ferns that have not unrolled into a full plant yet and are in season for only several weeks a year. They are delicate, earthy, and have a similar texture to a hybrid of young string bean and gai-lan (if that helps at all…).
For dinner that night, I had a Japanese chef trained in Japan and Lumière’s pastry cook over for dinner. No jokes. Talk about intimidation. Worse yet, the pastry cook saw the fiddleheads and recalls once having food poisoning after eating some that were not prepared properly. Yikes. Yes, there are mild toxins in fiddleheads but they dissipate once they are fully cooked. To prevent any trouble, I always blanch them first. They hold their texture well so don’t worry about them becoming mushy (unless of course, you boil them to death). As with all fresh ingredients, I like to keep the preparation simple to fully exhibit its properties.
Young fiddleheads (hand-pick the most tender ones and trim the ends)
Minced garlic (I used a ridiculous amount but it’s up to your liking)
s&p to taste
I found Cape (edit) gooseberries too! *beam* I popped them into my mouth like candy while I cooked.
Blanch fiddleheads in rolling, heavily salted water for one minute. Drain and submerge them in an ice bath to retain texture and colour.
Heat a sauté pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add fiddleheads, garlic, and mustard and heat through until the garlic is cooked and fragrant. Season with s&p.
Remove from the heat, grate on lemon zest, sprinkle with lemon juice, and garnish with Parmesan shavings and walnuts.