"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fiddlehead Ferns (Bracken Ferns) - May 1, 2011

In Japan, bamboo shoots and warabi - bracken ferns (蕨, わらび) or more commonly known as fiddlehead ferns- are quintessential spring time delicacies. Fresh ferns, now where do you go and find them? The answer: in the mountains; otherwise, they appeared on the menu of What Happens When as a part of their Menu No. 3. For a modern day hunter-gatherer, who cannot simply hike for the sheer physical joy or for the intellectual appreciation of nature, a form of gastronomic reward - e.g. wild blueberries, acorns - is necessary to induce such a helpless glutton to a more salutary and ambulatory pursuit.


  • Bracken ferns
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Enoki mushrooms
Black sesame miso
  • Miso
  • Mirin (boiled to evaporate the alcohol)
  • Black sesame paste
  • Haccho miso
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  1. Bracken ferns are carcinogenic. Having said that, however, you need to consume a truckload of bracken ferns in order for it to be truly toxic (then again, I do not know which will be more adversary to your health - a truckload of foie gras or ferns). So, boil them in salt water or pour ash and water over them and let them stand overnight as traditionalists would do. Once you have done that, the carcinogen is mostly and safely neutralized.
  2. Steam/microwave the ferns, bamboo shoots and enoki mushrooms and drain off the excess liquid; Cut and slice them into sizes which will fit into human mouth comfortably.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the miso paste, where miso should be predominant. Miso and mirin should be about the same amount, so add the sesame paste and the rest as you taste the mixture. For example, if you use 2 tablespoons of miso and mirin, then the rest should be about 1 teaspoon each. Make sure there is sufficient sweetness to balance off the bitterness of the ferns.
  4. Mix the paste and the ferns, bamboo shoots and enoki mushrooms.
  5. Ready for consumption.


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