What are those strange looking tightly curled up things? The ones that look like “rolled up asparagus” to my ten year old. Fiddle de diddle, they are Fiddleheads, a strange and wondrous vegetable that look and taste like no other. And they are in season, farm fresh, here in the Garden State (New Jersey if you weren’t sure).
Fiddleheads are actually the top of a fern. (See that picture on the left.) They only appear in the early spring and disappear quicker than most farmers’ market finds. So get them now if you’re curious and the fresher the better while they last. You cannot eat them raw and they must be softened first. Give them a boil and then cook as you like. I honestly don’t know how to describe their taste since they truly are unlike anything else. Other people say they taste like asparagus, okra, broccoli and spinach but I really can’t put my finger on it.
What better to do than give them some breading, a spike of heat and a crisping in a frying pan? But first you must soften those finicky fiddleheads with a ten minute boil. My boys were curious and then skeptical at first taste but after the initial strange food alert, they devoured a plate of these Panko Crusted Chili Fiddleheads with some Sriracha Sauce.
It’s worth trying them — even if it’s just once — so that you know what these outer space looking vegetables taste like.