food Program

Spicy Stir-Fried Fiddleheads with Chile Paste, Sesame Oil and Walnuts

Contributed by Megan Saynisch, from the Real Food Right Now series.

Here I treat fiddleheads like green beans or asparagus and sauté them at high heat with lots of spicy chile paste. I love pairing nuts with green veggies – for crunch and for nutrition – and since I have to follow the fiddlehead party line and boil them before sautéing, crunch is something that is seriously needed.  Sambal ulek is an Indonesian chile paste, commonly found in Asian markets. Substitute chile-garlic paste or sriracha if you can’t find it. (Here’s a good info sheet on the differences between the three.)

Also: I like canola oil for stir-frying because of its neutral taste and high smoke point, but I try to only use organic canola because about 90 percent of canola oil grown in the US comes from GMO canola. So there’s that. Feel free to choose another oil with a high smoke point, like peanut.

1 lb. ostrich fern fiddleheads, washed and stems trimmed 
1 tablespoon sambal ulek (see note above)
1 teaspoon sesame oil1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons organic canola or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or pressed)
14 cup walnuts, lightly broken up 
A few squirts fresh lime juice

Have ready a bowl of ice water. Boil the cleaned and trimmed fiddleheads in a pot of lightly salted water for 10 minutes.  Drop into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels.

Stir together the sambal ulek, sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce.

In a wok or wide sauté pan, heat the canola oil on high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of seconds (don’t let it brown). Add the boiled and patted dry fiddleheads and stir for 1 minute. Add the walnuts and stir for 1-2 minutes more.

Stir in the sambal ulek mixture and bring to a boil. Simmer over high heat until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Squeeze a few drops of lime juice over the fiddleheads. Serve with rice.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Learn more about fiddleheads in Megan's full post on Ecocentric Blog.