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Sauteed Cattails – BC Wild Foods – Experiment #1

I’m always on the hunt for new and unusual food sources that you can pick in British Columbia. Apparently, edible cattails are yummy; the female (non flowering) head can be cooked and eaten like corn (it doesn’t taste like corn) and the young shoots can be cooked like asparagus.
I’m going to forage for some today and will report back!
Anyone tried them before and have a good recipe? I would love to hear from you.
Okay, I’m off to get my boots wet… chat soon.

I’m back from a successful hunt, found some cleavers and lemon balm too. I pulled some of the inner shoots (stalk core) of cattails (Typha latifolia) out to do a recipe test with. Sauteed them up with green onion, olive oil and garlic. Very exciting. And….. they were tasteless and kind of slimy. Damn.

Okay, try again!  I sliced them up and added them to a salad fresh.  Yum! They taste like cucumber.

Other foretold uses for these versatile plants include; using pollen from the as a flour (this is supposed to be amazing), grinding the roots up into a flour or steaming them.  I sense new experiments in my future.

For a Swallow Tail pop-up restaurant, Chef Jefferson Alvarez sous vide crosswise cut segments of the stalk and the result was that they tasted and looked exactly like scallops!  Amazing.

Also note that a plant to be wary of is any Iris family plants especially Iris pseudacorus (yellow iris) which is poisonous and can be present in the same marshy, low elevation habitat as the common cattail.   The key is cattails have a brown oblong seed head and iris’ don’t.  As well the stalk of the cattail should be round not edged.  Make sure you are very clear on the difference between these two plants before you pick them.
Please, if you are going to try this on your own try not to decimate cattail stocks. They are a very important little ecosystem.  And never harvest from parks.

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