Here by the Chesapeake Bay, we are pretty unfamiliar with fiddlehead ferns as an ingredient. Actually, we're pretty unfamiliar with them as much of anything. I certainly had not heard of them until a few weeks ago when I stopped in Eddies of Roland Park (Charles Street location) for some of their monster chocolate top cookies (sorry Geresbeck's). As soon as you walk into Eddies you hit the produce, the oh-so expensive produce! And the very first thing you see as you walk in (for a few weeks more anyway) is a small basket of these curly things:
...with a little plackard saying:
My first thought was, "What is this?" My second thought was, "Oh look! There's a little explanation on the plackard." As it said, fiddle head ferns are a common delicacy in New England. Fiddlehead ferns, so called because they curl up in a way that makes them look like the head of a fiddle, are harvested for only a few weeks per year, and are in season roughly from May through early July. But they grow in New England, and not this far south, which is why we don't use them and which is why most Marylanders probably have never heard of them.
So I decided to buy a handful - roughly a dollar's worth - and test drive this exotic delicacy. I improvised a stir fry from the various "fiddlehead fern sauté" recipes I have found on the internet.
To a cast-iron skillet I added:
- a swig of olive oil (about 1 - 2 T)
- 1/4 white onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, squooshed and chopped
I had maybe 20 to 25 little fern heads, and when they were washed I threw
- the 20 to 25 washed fiddle head fern heads
- salt and pepper to taste
So now that I have this interesting new ingredient, I have to think up other ways to prepare it, even **GASP** Marylandize it! Ooooh, here's a thought: fiddlehead ferns with Old Bay. The fusion commences...
ADDENDUM - Maybe my Crohn's-addled system is not used to eating ferns, or maybe I undercooked them or undercleaned them or something. It explains why I was up for 45 minutes last night on the loo (oooooh). Again, I'm not an expert in cooking these things!