Monday, March 30, 2009


My grandmama never (or hardly) cursed, so you often found her saying, "Oh Fiddlesticks!" when she was frustrated. This post however, is not about disappointment at all: it's about fiddlehead ferns.

Brian and I were in YouMe Town (essentially an upscale Walmart- food, clothes, everything) and spotted this fern heads wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. After asking a friend the next day, we discovered they were fiddlehead ferns, or zenmai/warabi (it depends on which fern it's from... but I can't read labels yet so I don't know which I saw). After a bit of research I learned they're a sought after delicacy that's criticized for being possibly carcinogenic. My opinion is that 7 little fiddleheads just once can't be worse than standing next to a smoker for a few minutes.

The next day, we hiked Princess Yama (mountain) and saw billions of 'em!! I became obsessed. I MUST eat some. A few pretty ones came home with me as samples to check online to make sure they were the edible kind.

Sadly, I couldn't figure out if they were or not, so I went back to the grocery store to find more. YouMe town was out (the season is like sakura, only a couple of weeks), Aruk was out, but BIG had some. Success!!

Emeril came to my rescue with this easy recipe that only needed garlic, butter, salt and parmesan cheese. I added my own pretty little beech mushrooms (which was way cheaper than button mushrooms in Japan). The fiddleheads tasted like an earthier, easier to digest version of asparagus. Really good with the butter.... mmmm.... I only wish I had more. This was supposed to be eatten with some brown rice, but we couldn't figure out how to get the rice cooker to work. Haha.

*Left column: unidentified fiddleheads on the mountain.
*Right column: fiddleheads from the store


  1. I love them, too! When I lived in Russia I was delighted that Russians eat them, too -- especially in Vladivostok, where the flora is similar to Japan's.

  2. Here's an idea for you: pretty soon it will be bamboo shoot season. I wonder if you can find someone to take you on a bamboo shoot hunt? You need eagle eyes to find them. The activity involves heavy digging. One of my favorite things to eat is takenoko gohan, made by freshly dug bamboo shoot. You don't have to actually dig them up yourself -- you can probably ask some Japanese people to make the dish for you!