I had never discovered fiddleheads before moving out East and now it’s a familiar site to see cars lined up along the highway near the marshes to pick the unfurled ferns. If you’ve never tried a fiddlehead, it’s a bit like asparagus, but needs to be prepared in a very different way. Because of the fronds, you should soak fiddleheads and rinse them well and they need to be steamed for about 20 minutes to reduce any risk of bacteria before they’re served or sauteed.
A familiar way to enjoy them, at least in our neck of the woods, is with vinegar. While I haven’t quite acquired the taste for steamed fiddleheads with vinegar, the following recipe relies on the acid from a lemon along with the tang and bite of a grainy mustard. I’ve slightly adapted a recipe that belongs to Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh from her cookbook “A Year in Niagara: The People and Food of Wine Country”, a book I highly recommend. She sections the cookbook up into months with Niagara wine recommendations and the kinds of seasonally available ingredients (although, there’s no way I’m getting new potatoes in May and I live near the potato capital of Canada!). It’s inspiring and perfect for getting your culinary juices flowing.
Seared Salmon on Fiddleheads & New Potatoes
Adapted by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh
4 6 oz salmon fillets, with skin (I used steaks; they were on sale)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
16 small new potatoes, lightly scrubbed and left whole (or about 4 large potatoes, scrubbed)
2 cups trimmed fiddleheads
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil and flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I reduced to 1/3 cup and it was sufficient)
2 tsp uncanny’s Honey and Tarragon mustard
juice of one lemon
1. Soak fiddleheads in cold water.
2. Rub the salmon all over with the 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Add a little salt and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Place the soaked and rinsed fiddleheads in a steamer (or sieve) and set over potatoes. Drain the potatoes and the fiddleheads, then plunge quickly and briefly in cold water. Drain again and let sit for a minute. Halve/quarter each potato. Place the potatoes and fiddleheads in a bowl with the chives, basil and parsley, the 1/3 cup olive oil, mustard and seasoning. Toss together to thoroughly coat the vegetables and cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel while you finish the salmon.
3. Heat a large frying pan until it is searingly hot. Add salmon to the hot pan, cut side down and fry cook until seared brown. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Serve with salad and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice on fish and salad.