深緑 (shinryoku): deep green
Springtime is prime season for going to the grocery store and having no idea what on earth is on the displays in the produce section. One item I did recognize was kogomi (こごみ) or kakuma (かくま), fiddlehead ferns, but only because I tried them last spring in a soba shop in Aizu, Fukushima.
I saw them again on a pre-hanami grocery run in the city a couple weeks ago, so I decided to give them a shot. Lauren Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum recommends preparing them like asparagus, so I blanched them before sauteing them in a little butter. Although she doesn’t mention kogomi in the article, fiddleheads with other spring vegetables make great tempura, as Makiko Itoh of Just Hungry describes in her article in The Japan Times, and I often see them served in spring-vegetable soba or udon dishes. Finally, the shopping site Sansaiya recommends boiling the fiddleheads and dressing them with sesame, soy sauce, and sugar.
Fiddleheads have a slightly nutty flavor and they make a good asparagus replacement in a meal. They should not be eaten raw, so be sure to cook them first. I’m hoping to have a chance to try cooking them in an entree before the season ends, but I ate these as a side vegetable to homemade falafel in pita (of all things).