I’m no expert on fiddleheads, and this, here, is not your source on why they are controversial or potentially dangerous (certain varieties), you can read all about that elsewhere. Fine, if you’re not going to bother looking into that, I will say that they/them/people who I guess know, definitely warn us to cook these vegetables (plants?) alllll the way through. Boil them for at least 10 minutes or steam them for about 12 and either way, make sure they are completely tender before eating them to avoid regret later. Something about toxicity, etc.
What I am here to share is the way James’ family eats fiddleheads. They are from New Brunswick, where many a fiddlehead grows. They know from fiddleheads.
1. Boil them until soft, then mix salted butter (or butter and salt) into them while they’re hot.
2. Top them with a healthy splash of regular white vinegar. Don’t get fancy about it and use Champagne vinegar, or even lemon. The punchiest vinegar you have is the way to go.
3. Eat them with your hands so you can lick the seasoning off of your fingers.
That last tip was mine.
Sadly, before you get to eating them, or even cooking them you have to clean fiddleheads. Which means trying to rid them of those very pesky, papery, brown husks. I think the best way is to try to shake most of the husks off while the fiddleheads are dry, in a strong paper bag for instance. Then pick off the remaining husks with your fingers, then rinse the fiddleheads. A lot. Then trim the cut ends of each one. Yeah. Super fun. Finally, cook, enjoy. And enjoy them, you will.
You can also treat them like you other sturdy green vegetables like beans, asparagus, artichokes, and toss them in pasta, frittatas, curry them, deep fry them etc. But I love them like this, slippery, salty and a little sour, not unlike the road to conquering them.