How to prepare fiddleheads

Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage shares one of his favourite ostrich fern fiddlehead recipes.

Chef Chris Whittaker looking for fiddleheads in Vancouver. Photo: Rama Knight.

In the Spring 2014 issue of British Columbia Magazine, we wrote about a coveted local delicacy—the fiddlehead. We spoke with Chef Chris Whittaker of Vancouver’s Forage restaurant for a fresh take on how to prepare these earthy greens. “Fiddleheads are such a naturally beautiful and interesting vegetable,” he says. “This recipe treats them more like Brussels sprouts.”

A word of caution: Fiddleheads are believed to contain a toxin that can cause stomach upset if consumed raw or undercooked (see the Heath Canada website for detailed information).


Fiddleheads with bacon

Serves 4 as a side dish

453 grams (1 pound) fresh ostrich fern fiddleheads (blanched for five minutes)
15 ml (1 tbsp) minced garlic
2 slices bacon chopped fine
30 ml (2 tbsp) salted butter
1 half lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Parmesan with microplane grater
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium/high heat add bacon and stir until fat is released and colour starts to appear. Add butter and allow butter solids to brown, then squeeze fresh lemon to stop this process. Add garlic and nutmeg, sauté for one minute while stirring. Add the blanched fiddleheads and stir for approximately two minutes or until they are completely hot through and through and tender. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish. Grate the Parmesan liberally over all of the fiddleheads and consume immediately.


About Chef Chris Whittaker

When he isn’t out hunting down fiddleheads, Chris Whittaker can be found in the kitchen of Forage restaurant, in Vancouver’s trendy West End.  Bee-keeping at home, preserving fruit and vegetables to have a “canless” commercial kitchen, and working with small lot farmers throughout the year are a few of the many ways he promotes sustainability with the food he prepares.


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