WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. ( Buffalo Spree ) To forage means to seek something out. Today foraging refers to finding fresh food that grows in the wild, and foraging for ingredients is all the rage in today's professional chef community.
Local Western New York chefs have been influenced by this trend and are turning to local markets for freshly foraged edibles like ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads (baby ostrich ferns). Chef James Roberts, the executive chef at Williamsville's Park Country Club is no exception.
Buffalo Spree magazine's food editor, Christa Glennie Seychew, met up with him at the club to look at his recent haul of springy greens, and to sample his recipe for scallops served with fiddleheads and a charred ramp sauce.
Locals who aren't familiar with what items are or are not safe to eat
should not go foraging unless they go with a knowledgeable and experienced guide.
When they are in season, ramps and fiddleheads can be found in local supermarkets, farmers' markets, and co-operative markets.
You can read more about fiddleheads in the May issue of Buffalo Spree magazine.
Seared Scallops, Fiddleheads with Charred Ramp Sauce
By: Chef James D. Roberts, CEC of Park Country Club
Raw dry-packed sea scallops (size U-10) 12 count
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly ground coriander, to taste
Kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
Vegetable oil or bacon fat, 2 teaspoons
Fiddlehead ferns, blanched and iced, 1 cup
Unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon
Diced bacon, 2 tablespoons
White wine, 3 tablespoons
Ramps, 1 bundle (approximately 2 dozen ramps)
Vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons
Extra virgin olive oil , 1 tablespoon
Char ramp bulbs on a grill or under a broiler with a little oil to promote
browning, place in fridge to cool.
Blanche ramp leaves (tops) until slightly wilted in salted water then shock into an ice bath, drain and reserve.
With a blender running, add charred ramp bottom, and chilled leaves, then add vegetable stock, olive oil and season. Puree until smooth.
Reserve to the side for saucing scallops.
Blanch fiddlehead ferns in boiling salted water and shock in ice water when tender. Drain and reserve.
Dice cold bacon render slowly over low heat until crispy, drain, reserving fat if you wish to sauté scallops in it, and reserve crispy bacon cubes for fiddleheads.
Season scallops to taste with salt, pepper, and coriander.
In a medium hot skillet, place oil or bacon fat for scallops then place
scallops in oil, careful to move only once or twice to get a nice sear.
When scallops are seared, flip over cook for one minute and remove from pan.
Add bacon and fiddle head ferns to scallop pan, sauté for two minutes to heat.
Add white wine and simmer for one minute, and season, removing from heat.
Plate charred ramp puree down, placing a small pile of bacon and
fiddleheads in a small mound and placing seared scallops on top.