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Tempura, Grilled, and Pickled Fiddleheads Recipe

This spring-centric recipe shows off all of the ways to fiddle—er, play—with your fiddleheads.
May 22, 2015, 3:47pm
Tempura, Grilled, and Pickled Fiddleheads Recipe

Servings: 2


1/2 pound fiddleheads

For the fermented carrot puree:

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped for puree
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped for juice
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
juice 1 1/2 pounds carrots

For the grilled pickled fiddleheads:

1 part granulated sugar, 2 parts cider vinegar, 3 parts water

For the salsa verde:

2 cups parsley leaves, picked and cleaned
3/4 cup picked tarragon leaves
1 small shallot, diced
3 tablespoons capers
1 cup water
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
white balsamic vinegar, to taste
salt and sugar, to taste

For the savory granola:

2 cups puffed rice
1/4 cups pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
4 tablespoons glucose
kosher salt, to taste

For the tempura batte**r**:

1 large egg yolk
2 cups iced sparkling water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


1. First, make the carrot puree. Weigh the carrot juice and add 2 percent salt by weight. Stir to combine and pour the liquid into a Mason jar. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for at least 7 days.

2. Check the jar daily to make sure there isn't any mold forming on the top of the liquid. If mold is found, carefully skim it off and re-cover the jar. After 7 days, the liquid will have separated and developed an acidic tang.

3. In a pot cover, the 1 1/2 lbs of fresh carrots for puree in water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Simmer the carrots until very very tender. Add more water as necessary to keep the carrots covered. When soft, place the cooked carrots into the jug of the Vitamix. Add half the fermented carrot juice and puree. If the mixture is too thick, add more of the fermented carrot juice. With the Vitamix on high, add the butter bit by bit until combined. Season with salt to taste. Place the puree in a plastic squeeze bottle.

4. Clean and unwind the fiddleheads. Toss in canola oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a hot grill. Grill the fiddleheads until slightly charred and softened. Remove from the grill and set aside.

5. Next, it's time to pickle them. Combine 1 part sugar with 2 parts cider vinegar and 3 parts water. Season with salt, to taste. Add a large pinch of chili flakes. Boil the liquid, taste, and adjust seasoning as you feel necessary. Pour the boiling pickling brine over the fiddleheads. Allow them to steep for several hours.

6. Now, make the salsa verde. Place the herbs, shallots, and capers in a Vitamix. Add water and puree on high until the mixture is smooth. While the mixer is on high, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add salt, sugar and vinegar, being sure to taste as you go to achieve a bright, balanced flavor.

7. With the mixer still running, add the xantham gum. The texture will change almost instantly. Test the texture of the salsa on a plate. If too thick, add a small amount of water. Place the salsa verde in a plastic squeeze bottle. Set aside.

8. Now, make the savory granola. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the glucose in a microwave until runny. Pour the glucose over the dry ingredients and toss with a large spoon. When well combined, sprinkle the spices and salt over top and mix again. Place the granola on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 300° F until crisp. Cool and reserve in an airtight container.

9. Make the tempura batter: Combine the egg, water and baking soda. Add to sifted flour and stir until just incorporated (the batter should be fairly watery). Mix just before use.

10. To finish the dish: Heat canola oil to 375° F in a deep fryer or in a large pot with only 1 inch of oil in the bottom. Do not overfill a deep fryer! Drain a portion of fiddleheads on paper towel. Assemble all elements of the dish including some small mint leaves and thin slices of radish.

11. Dot the two sauces around the plate in a manner that pleases you. Dip three fiddleheads into the tempura batter allow to drain for two seconds then gently lay them in the hot oil. Using tongs or long cooking chopsticks, turn the fiddleheads so that all sides of the batter get cooked to a pale, golden color.

12. Remove the fiddleheads from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season with salt as soon as you remove the fiddleheads from the oil. Plate the three tempura fiddleheads with three of the uncoated fiddleheads and garnish with radish slices, mint, and savory granola.