With their playful coils, mild-asparagus taste, and fleeting season, it’s easy to see why fiddleheads are considered a delicacy—especially when one considers they are each a furled frond of a young ostrich fern hand-foraged from a forest floor. Coated in a light, crispy tempura batter and served with a spicy dipping sauce, this spring treat elevates snacking to a new level.
Reprinted from The Berkley Bowl Cookbook by Laura McLively, published by Parallax Press c 2018. —Food52
- Serves 6 as an appetizer
- Sriracha Crème Fraîche
Sriracha, more to taste
fresh lime juice
plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Canola oil for frying
- To make the Sriracha crème fraîche, combine all the ingredients and set aside until ready to serve.
- To make the tempura, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon of the corn starch in a mixing bowl, and refrigerate it along with the beaten egg and club soda until you are ready to make the tempura batter—cold ingredients will ensure a light, airy tempura.
- Set a pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, clean the fiddleheads by swishing them around in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt or brown papery skin, and trim the ends. Blanch the fiddleheads in the boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well and pat dry.
- Heat at least 1 to 2 inches of canola oil plus the sesame oil in a skillet over high heat. Dredge the fiddleheads in the remaining 1/4 cup of cornstarch and shake off the excess. Combine the beaten egg with the club soda and pour into the flour mixture. Using a pair of chopsticks or a fork, stab at the flour for no more than 20 to 30 seconds to loosely combine it with the liquid but maintain lumps and pockets of dry flour.
- Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium and, working quickly, dunk a fiddlehead in the batter using chopsticks or small tongs and drop it into the hot oil. Repeat with the other fiddleheads but do not crowd the skillet. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the fiddleheads turn lightly golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle lightly with the togarashi and sea salt. Fry the remaining batches. Serve immediately with the Sriracha crème fraîche as a dipping sauce.