Ramp–Fiddlehead Fried Rice
The Lost Kitchen, Belfast, ME
“Fiddleheads are the very beginnings of ferns that are still coiled, the most coveted of which come from the ostrich fern. When cooked properly, they still have a little crunch—like perfectly cooked asparagus (which make a fine substitute in a pinch)—and taste the way fresh ferns smell: grassy and earthy and herbaceous. You need to catch them at the exact right time since the tighter their spirals, the better. Once they start to unfurl, they get bitter. Ramps are wild onions. They look a little like scallions (which, again, make a fine alternative) with their white bulbs and green shoots, but they have a woodsier taste and are even spicier. You can find them growing by streams and dig them out with a small garden tool, or you could just go to a farmer’s market, where they’re usually abundant, though for only a month each spring. ” —Erin French in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine.
- 2 cups rice (ideally black rice, but brown will work too)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 6 ramps or scallions, sliced (greens, bulbs, and all)
- 3/4 pound fiddleheads or asparagus, blanched and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar, plus more for drizzling
- 4 large eggs, fried or poached
- Microgreens, for garnish (optional)
Make the rice: there are very few small appliances that I love, but my rice cooker is one of them—perfect rice every time! Use yours and follow the manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have one, bring the rice, 3 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender and most of the water has been absorbed, about 35 minutes. With either method, rinse the cooked rice with cold water, drain well, and spread over a baking sheet. Chill the rice in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight (this will help it get nice and crispy when you fry it).
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add the ramps and fiddleheads, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few twists of fresh pepper. Sauté the mixture until the greens have wilted and the whites have just begun to brown, about 2 minutes.
Raise the heat to high and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the rice. Let it be without stirring for 15 to 20 seconds, then give the pan a good stir or shake. Continue frying the rice, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the vinegar to the skillet, give the pan another good stir, and remove it from the heat.
Toss the microgreens, if using, with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and a pinch of salt.
Divide the fried rice among 4 plates, top each plate with a fried egg, and garnish with the greens, and a twist of black pepper.
Adapted from The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine by Erin French (Clarkson Potter, 2017).