Pako salad anyone?

I am delighted to share with all of you that I have discovered a delicious edible fern, thanks to Mr. D. I didn't even know what "Pako" was, until 3 weeks ago when he took home a fresh bunch from the market early Sunday morning. He made a quick Pako Ensalada to go with our Crispy Tawilis (recipe here on the blog) for breakfast. The flavor was something new to my palate, it was bursting with brightness and freshness perfect for ensaladas. It kind of reminds me of asparagus with woodsy notes too. It was an absolutely fantastic addition to our already yummy meal. Forgive me for not having any pictures of our Pako salad, the thought of eating it just makes me too giddy to be able to think straight at times. We finish it all in one sitting, it wilts too fast and enjoying it fresh if you decide to serve it raw, is the only way to go. Our rule of thumb when it comes to Pako (or any fresh herb at that), only buy it on the same day you plan to serve it for a meal. It doesn't keep well, even in the fridge.

Did a bit of research on Pako or "Fiddlehead Fern" and was quite surprised that it's not something unusual or rare but acutally common to some parts of our country, and I just found out about it now. I repeat, I just found out about it now? I wasn't living under rock or anything, and I have frequented markets around the metro a lot, but never encountered Pako in any of my trips. How did I miss it? No use wracking my brain Well, better late than never I guess. I was shocked when I came across information that they cost around $20-$30 in the US and Canada. They're a spring delicacy there. Another reason to add to my list of why I love living in the Philippines, we get Pako dirt cheap here haha.

Anyway, I've read about it being steamed and blanched but so far we're enjoying it raw. There is also a debate going on, on whether it is safe to be eaten raw or not. Some people are a bit wary of mild toxins said to be present in several types of ferns, try searching for shikimic acid. Going to research more about it, but just to be on the safe side we should definitely try blanching it this coming Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes, and maybe some actual photos. Keeping my fingers crossed but not getting my hopes up when it comes to taking pictures before digging in on Sunday haha.

Haven't had Pako before? Maybe you should check your local wet and dry market for some and try adding it to your meal.

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Article published on February 26, 2015

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