Fiddleheads (or Tête de Violon to all you francophones) are in season at the moment here in Quebec, and when I spotted some in my local Loblaws I was quick to grab them. Being from the prairies, these are not something I grew up with as they are only available in certain areas.
There are some health warnings that come along with these, and in fact at the grocery store there was a large sign stating that they should be cooked for at least 10 minutes if boiled. It’s the first time I saw a warning like that for a vegetable!
Some quick scientific internet research reveals that they were linked to some health scares in the early nineties, although the toxin was never identified. Canadian Living has a good little mini guide on these, and reveals that if undercooked they can cause all sorts of nastiness. I think I’ll stick with the allotted time to be on the safe side!
Prepare the fiddleheads by washing them to remove any brown areas and get rid of the dirt. I also cut off the brown ends. I steamed mine for 20 minutes and then served with some butter, but you can also boil them for 10 minutes in lightly salted water. As you can see even though I’ve trimmed them there was still some brown that showed up after cooking. If you boil them, don’t be shocked – the water will turn very brown.
They are a tasty change, and it’s a shame to not have them at least once while they are in season so give it a try!