Ever since I was young, I’ve been obsessed with nature. I spent the better part of my childhood/young adulthood hunting for bugs, pressing leaves, watching birds, painting trees, photographing mushrooms, catching frogs, collecting seashells, turning my Polly Pockets into houses for ants (don’t ask about that one!). I even went to university intending to become a zoologist.
I ultimately fell in love with nutrition and decided to switch my focus near the end of undergrad, but I never lost my fascination with nature. Food is nature, after all. Real food, that is. Especially rustic, foraged beauties like fiddleheads.
These little green coils are young curled-up ferns that have been harvested before they’ve had a chance to unfurl. I used to come across fiddleheads on springtime walks with my dad at the cottage. I’ve never harvested them myself, but fresh fiddleheads show up every spring at my grocery store and I always make sure to pick up a bunch. Their growing season is very short, so one day they’re here, the next they’re gone.
This stir-fry recipe is a fun way to highlight the playful shape of fiddleheads alongside similarly shaped shrimp. If you’ve never cooked with fiddlehead ferns before, don’t worry! They’re as easy as cooking broccoli or asparagus, though a bit of extra washing is required to remove any soil or debris. Simply submerge them in a bowl of cold water, swish them around a bit and then replenish with new water.
- 1 400-g (~14-oz) package brown rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/4 Lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 cups fresh fiddleheads, rinsed thoroughly
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red chile, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha (or more, to taste)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- Place the dried noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until softened, about 2 minutes. Drain liquid and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. When the oil is just about to smoke, add the garlic and chiles and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Next, add the fiddleheads and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for until just pink, about 2 more minutes. Add the cooked noodles, stir-fry to combine evenly and sprinkle with the soy sauce, fish sauce and sriracha; stir-fry for another 2 minutes to allow the noodles to absorb the flavours.
- Divide stir-fry among 4 serving plates or bowls and sprinkle each serving with the green onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing overtop and more sriracha, if desired.
- This recipe is by no means authentic, but the flavours come together to create a balanced, flavourful and somewhat spicy Thai-inspired stir-fry. If spicy foods aren't your thing, use less sriracha.