30 Mar 2011 10:02 pm
For the fiddleheads:
canola oil for frying
½ lb fiddleheads
¾ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 oz beer, preferably a spring ale
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 to 4 tablespoons carbonated water
Pour the oil to a depth of three inches into a deep, heavy pot. Heat to a temperature of 375°, or until a very small drop of water spatters instantly when dropped in.
Wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of cold water, swirling to remove as much of the brown fuzz as possible. Rinse in several changes of cold water. Drain and pat dry on paper towels.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently stir in the beer and egg just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently stir in two tablespoons of the soda water; add one or two tablespoons more of soda water if needed so that mixture is just barely thick. Do not overmix: batter should be puffy and should be ‘breathing’ slightly.
Check that that oil has reached the correct temperature by dropping a small dollop of the batter into it. The batter should brown nicely in about a minute.
Spread a small amount of the batter onto a plate. Gently swirl a fiddlehead on the plate until both sides are just coated with batter. Shake off excess. Be careful not to coat the fiddlehead with too much batter: you want to be able to see its swirled shape.
Repeat with each fiddlehead, dropping it into the oil as you coat it with batter. Fry until golden brown, turning in the oil as necessary, about one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Serve fiddleheads on a plate or small platter, with a small bowl of aioli for dipping.
For the aioli:
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ tsp salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 egg yolk
¼ to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 to 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
In a mortar or small food processor, grind garlic and salt into a paste. Add chives and grind a few minutes longer, until paste takes on a green color. Transfer paste to a medium sized mixing bowl.
Set the mixing bowl on a dampened towel or paper towel to keep it in place while whisking (or ask an assistant to hold it for you). Add egg yolk to the garlic paste and whisk to combine. Begin adding the oil in a thin stream, whisking continually. As soon as the mixture begins to gel and take on the consistency of thick mayonnaise, whisk in 1 tsp of the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in remaining oil in a thin stream until an even, spreadable consistency is attained. Add additional lemon juice and salt to taste.