Gosari (고사리) Braised Fiddlehead (Fern bracken)

Posted on May 3, 2011 by


Gosari (고사리) Braised Fiddlehead (Fern bracken) in bibimbap

Gosari (고사리) Braised Fiddlehead (Fern bracken) in bibimbap

This dish evokes my all time favorite childhood memory of my mother in America. She used to take me out to the fields and forage fiddlehead ferns to make this Korean dish of simmered braised fiddleheads. If you have ever eaten bibimbap in a Korean restaurant, then you’ve tasted gosari. They are the brown meaty twigs pictured in this bowl. The preparation gives it a meaty flavor and texture the way mushrooms get meaty. It was so delicious I would get really excited as a child when it was that time of year to pick gosari, despite the red ants that would bite me. My mother would fill several hefty garbage bags with it, then dry it on blankets in the sun until they were deep reddish brown. Then she would simmer it for hours in a braising liquid that gave it a deep, delicious meaty teriyaki type flavor. She did not let me eat them raw, saying they were no good that way. We didn’t make bibimbap with it, we just ate heaps of it with rice.

First gather fiddleheads and dry them on a sheet or blanket in the sun until they turn a deep brown color and are barely flexible. This is an important step as dried fiddleheads taste differently from fresh the same way raisins no longer taste like grapes.

1 pound dried fiddleheads
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of your choice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
water enough to barely submerge

Take the pound of dried fiddleheads and reconstitute them in fresh water overnight. In the morning rinse them in several changes of water and drain.

In a soup pan heat sesame oil over medium high heat. Saute fiddleheads, add garlic, add the soy sauce, sweetener and water then simmer with lid on over low heat for 1 hour or until all liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Sad part of this story is that I don’t ever see fields of fern bracken anymore. The few ostrich fern in my yard make enough for one dish, that’s it. 🙁

There is a lot of literature on the web implicating fiddleheads as carcinogenic. All I can say is that I’ve eaten tons of this stuff, literally, my whole life and I don’t have cancer of any form and neither did my mother and she ate it all of her life. I think it is very healthy to eat wild vegetables because they are survivors and pick the best places to grow, versus cultivated plants that don’t choose where they get to grow. Perhaps we should eat them the way my mother prepared them. They were my favorite food. I get them prepared in the Korean market and they are just not the same, sigh.

Posted in: Foraging, Recipes