Today’s ingredient on the rediscovery radar (read some surprising new facts about Green Jackfruit here) is the Fiddlehead Fern, known as ‘Tete de Violon’ in French and ‘Dheki Shaak’ in Bengali, so called because of it’s resemblance to the coiled tip of a violin or fiddle head.
When I used to have it as a school girl, my favourite preparation was a quick n simple Crisp Fried Fern. The little coiled heads were as quirky to look at as they were tasty to eat! Mom used to tell me stories of how foragers of this fern ran the risk of snakebites as it was a wild vegie that had to be cut close to the ground before it unfurled into a full fern leaf, and snakes normally nested in the fern undergrowth… *SHIVER
Today, there are many different recipes that one can try out with this short-season, unique and gourmet vegie – from Asian broths and salads, to European sautes and bakes, to traditional Himalayan curries and pickles, to the humble ol’ North-East Indian ‘Shaak’, sometimes spruced up with fried shrimp… yummm!
This fern is rich in Vits A and C and Omega 3, and can be used much like Asparagus. Just wash the heads thoroughly and remove any brown fuzz, blanch for a minute, pan saute with garlic cloves in a nob of butter, and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Or discover your own way of cooking up this wild gift from Nature. You too will fall in love with it, just as I have all over again…