Alaska is abundant with wild game and fish, but foraging for wild plants takes a little more work. But it's fun work! With the right mentality, every spring walk through the woods can be turned into a treasure hunt for green buds and shoots. I find it extremely satisfying and meditative to sit down in the woods and fill a container with wild plants or berries. It makes me think that foraging creates a connection to my primal hunter-gatherer genes. It's quite gratifying.
I tend to get a bit obsessive during certain harvest periods and right now I can't stop thinking about fiddleheads. They are in their prime-- tightly coiled but with an inch or two of stem-- for such a fleeting window. This means that I don't want to go to work or to bed, I just want to retreat to the woods and pick. Can you blame me? They are so beautiful, and taste like the essence of spring: asparagus-y crispy green goodness. To celebrate this beautiful plant I will be sharing Fiddleheads: Five Ways. For those of you in northern parts of North America, let's begin in the woods!
I look for fiddleheads near rivers, underneath the brown remains of the unfurled fiddlehead fern plants that line many Alaskan riverbanks. They grow in cute little clumps called crowns. They are too early to harvest when the heads are close to the ground and tightly packed, like a head of garlic. Look for fiddleheads that have a few inches of stem. I leave most of the stem behind.
Once you've finished your foraging, brush off the papery brown covering. Don't eat fiddleheads raw. I always start by blanching the fiddleheads: toss them in boiling water and cook for about two minutes. Transfer the fiddleheads to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Then you can do all kinds of fun things! For example, serve the blanched fiddleheads with a fun sauce, like hollandaise. I tried "3 Minute Hollandaise Sauce" by the Savory Lotus, served with poached eggs and marinated kale. The crisp, fresh fiddleheads paired perfectly with the rich and creamy hollandaise and runny egg yolk.
♥ Come back tomorrow for "Fiddleheads: Five Ways" Part 1! ♥