Thursday, May 12, 2011

Try fiddleheads! Thai fiddleheads!

Fiddleheads, fiddleheads in a dish... how many fiddleheads do you wish?
Gulai Pakis, Maritime-style, served with Tamarind Chickpeas.

Fiddleheads are a wonderful wild fern. You can't get 'em everywhere, but you can luckily get 'em here in the Maritimes. Friends of my brother's used to drive for 5 hours to get them each May when they weren't yet available in stores! At the time I thought that was ludicrous. Okay, I still kind of do, but at least now I get it. These awesome ferns are a rare, time-limited delicacy available in wet n' wild areas during parts of May and June around these parts. Although they're loaded with omega-3s and 6s, antioxidants, fibre and iron, they also have a natural toxin in them, so you should definitely cook 'em before you eat 'em.

Most folks fry the fheads in butter, maybe with some garlic, lemon or vinegar. Maybe I just haven't been invited to the right parties, but this is the only way I've ever heard of them being cooked. Delicious sure, but slightly ho-hum. So I did a little search around the ol' internet, and found that in Thailand-- who knew they even grew there?-- they cook 'em up in coconut and other typical Thai seasonings in a dish called Gulai Pakis. I made a variation of this yesterday and it was pretty awesome. I used dried galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and turmeric, I used red curry paste rather than shrimp paste, and sriracha and red chili flakes rather than the fresh hot peppers, but otherwise, I pretty much stuck to the recipe. It was pretty damned delicious. If you know someone who thinks fiddleheads taste dull (as my bf does), stew this up! 

How do you serve this awesome spring fern?

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