All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Kogomi ostrich fern fiddleheads & seiyo meshida lady fern fiddleheads

Kogomi fiddleheads of kusasotetsu ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

As a juicy and succulent curled-up young shoot from the forest, kogomi ranks as one of my top sansai mountain/wild vegetables, yet it does not grow where we live (the nearest known places are British Columbia and Alaska). Local availability -- local in terms of being able to harvest and eat it on the same day -- is very important in order to be able to savor its quickly fading flavor and aroma. Like with many sansai, kogomi develops a bitter taste after some time. It stays fresh in the fridge for a week or so, but I would say no element other than texture remains after a few days.

In Japanese cooking, it is often blanched and dressed with sesame dressing (gomaae). Mixing with nuts-based dressing is also common. Tempura, the cooking method of choice for super fresh sansai, is always popular. Kogomi does not require any special prep to eliminate a harsh taste (especially when very fresh) or poisonous substances, so you can start your main cooking immediately, and kogomi can be used just like any other vegetable such as asparagus, green beans or peas. After kogomi starts to become bitter, prep blanching can eliminate bitterness to a certain degree.

Kogomi is rich in minerals (350 mg potassium, 26 mg calcium, 31mg magnesium per 100 g) and vitamins. Among vitamins, some of the most notable includeβ-carotene (1,100 µg), which has an anti-oxidation effect and keeps skin and mucous membranes healthy, and folic acid (150 mg/100 g), an essential element in blood formation. Kogomi also contains plenty of insoluble dietary fiber (4.7 g/100 g), which helps in detoxification.

28 kcal/100 g; 90.7% water, 3.0% protein, 0.2% fat, 5.3% carbohydrate, 0.8% ash

Fiddleheads of seiyo meshida lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

As the Japanese name -- seiyo [Western] meshida [female fern] -- indicates, the plant is not native to Japan and is more widely appreciated by Japanese gardening enthusiasts as an uncommon ornamental fern with graceful leaves. Here it is found everywhere (including our field), and its fiddleheads resemble kogomi not only in form but also in flavor and aroma (even if lighter). They also share the characteristic of both flavor and aroma disappearing quickly. Seiyo meshida fiddleheads can be prepared the same way as kogomi. Because its flavor and aroma are naturally softer than kogomi's, seiyo meshida seems to be at its very best for even a shorter time. "Ephemeral" was the word that came to mind when I first tried it.

For both kogomi and seiyo meshida, blanch and refrigerate them if you do not eat/cook them on the day of harvest. 

(No nutrition data is found specifically for seiyo meshida fiddleheads)

Recipes with kogomi/seiyo meshida fiddleheads

Try kogomi/seiyo meshida fiddleheads in the following recipes

(Last updated: April 27, 2019)

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