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Weird, but delicious

June 9, 2011

I always get overly excited in the grocery store when fiddleheads appear. They are unforgivingly seasonal and always crop up when I least expect it (because shamefully, I’m not up to snuff on my local produce calendar). They seem almost alien, but really are just curled up young ferns. Or as Wikipedia tongue twists: “furled fronds of a young fern”. No matter. It is said that they taste like a mix between asparagus and broccoli. I don’t quite get that. While they have a bit of the consistency of asparagus, their taste is more bitter, but altogether delicious. I’ll admit, I’m partial to the way they look, so perhaps I give them too much credit in the taste department, but I leave the final verdict up to you. Just don’t overcook them. No veggie tastes good overcooked.

I threw a bunch of things in the pan with the fiddleheads and this is what happened.

Fiddlehead fern stir-fry with sweet and sour tempeh by joe vegan

Ingredients (fiddlehead fern stir-fry)

  • 1 T. vegan butter or oil
  • lots of fiddleheads (say, 2 cups or more, wash well and trim off the darkened ends)
  • 1 c. grean peas or snow peas
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced in disks
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T. soy sauce or shoyu or salty Asian liquid seasoning of your choice
  • handful, cashews (raw)

Ingredients (sweet and sour tempeh)

  • 1 package, tempeh, cut in small squares
  • 2-3 T. oil (vegetable, canola, etc., but not olive)
  • 1 clove, garlic, minced
  • 4 T. vinegar
  • 1/2 an orange (peeled, sliced into rings and roughly pulled apart into flat Trivial Pursuit pieces)
  • 4 T. soy sauce
  • 2.5 T. sweetener of your choice (I used agave nectar)


  1. Heat oil for tempeh in sauce pan over med to med-high heat. Add tempeh and garlic and stir fry without allowing garlic to get too brown.
  2. Once tempeh is turning a nice golden brown, add vinegar, orange slices, soy sauce and sweetener. Turn down heat and let liquid bubble happily, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter/oil for fiddleheads in a separate wok over med-high. Once hot, add fiddleheads and stir fry until fiddleheads are relatively soft. This may take a few good minutes.
  4. Add carrots, peas, ginger, soy sauce, and cashews and stir fry till everything is to a desired consistency (this shouldn’t take long).
  5. Serve tempeh over the fiddleheads immediately and behold the fiddlehead weirdness, yet deliciousness!

(Note, you can substitute the tempeh for tofu, but I would recommend either pressing it first, or freezing it and then squeezing out the moisture before frying.)

If you have a favourite way of preparing fiddleheads, please let me know by commenting below! I’m always interested in learning new ways of serving up this fun vegetable.

fiddlehead stirfry with tempeh

fiddlehead stirfry with tempeh

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