Try something new! This ‘Ensaladang Pako’ or Fiddlehead Fern Salad has a crunchy bite to it with salted eggs giving it the creamy, savory notes while the sweet-vinegar dressing gives it a holistic flavor.
Definitely not your ordinary salad! Have you ever thought that ferns can be eaten? No? Well, in my hometown, Pampanga, this is a common salad dish served in local restaurants. However, not all fern can be eaten, so before you think of making a feast out of your decorative ferns, learn first if they are the edible fiddleheads.
Some fiddlehead fern needs to be cooked before you can safely consume them because they may contain toxins. In the Philippines though and other parts of Asia, we have the vegetable fern. Locally it is known as “Pako”. Here it is common to eat is raw. Just make sure that you wash them thoroughly or better yet, soak them in cold or iced water for some minutes, then wash them. You can also blanch them in boiling water and then soak them in iced water if want to be sure.
Although it is common to find vegetable fern in the local marketplaces, you have to go early as they are only available in the mornings. They are sold in bundles and are normally just freshly picked. That ensures freshness and that they are still quite crisp.
This Ensaladang Pako is very simple. Usually prepared with fresh onions and tomatoes that add flavors to the rather mild taste of the vegetable fern. It is mostly added for its crispy texture that is quite refreshing.
But vegetable fern is not without health benefits. It is said to be rich in minerals such as potassium and zinc. And also, high in antioxidant and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B complex.
Other quick Salad recipes to try:
Fiddlehead fern Salad (Ensaladang Pako)
- 2 cups fiddlehead fern - - young fronds
- 3 medium tomatoes - - sliced thinly
- 1 large onion - - sliced thinly
- 2 salted egg - - cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- fresh ground pepper
- Soak the collected tips of vegetable fern young fronds in cold water for some minutes and rinse well. You may also blanch them in boiling water beforehand.
- In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in vinegar and add fresh ground pepper. Set aside.
- In a big bowl, mix the fern, tomatoes and onions.
- Pour in vinegar mixture and toss until well mixed.
- Add the salted eggs and toss one last time.
Regular boiled eggs instead of salted eggs may be used.
This post was originally published in January 2015. Updated to include new photos and improvement to the recipe.