From the Farmer’s Market: Pako or Edible Fern Salad

Basically part of dinner were the salads we made from the stuff we bought in farmers. I had a lady ask me in the stall of how I cook the Pako or edible fern I bought and I just told her I made it into a usual Filipino salad. We were able to get 2 gigantic bundles of fern for only P40, I guess this was because the vendor didn’t think it would last much longer if it stayed in his warm shop. I totally love pako. I think it is a vegetable that actually reminds us that we were once a hunting-gathering civilization (can you imagine the absence of agriculture back then?).

I learned so much about my quest for pako or edible fern. Apparently, this only grows at the sides of very cold rivers and streams, this was from all the people we asked at the markets in Quezon. Usually kids would go near rivers to pick them and sell them for some extra cash.

I tried to google this and found 2 sources that tried to name the pako, according to WiKi, it is called a vegetable fern, and according to this other source it is really known as a pako fern (not quite sure how reliable that was but both had scientific names). India, Indonesia, and Malaysia also have this so we’re not the only ones in Asia enjoying these lovely leaves!

With the 2 bundles we bought, I was eating pako all week and was able to keep the entire bunch fresh with a little trick I learned from one of my mentors, Denise Vivaldo, — Keep the sorted vegetable under damp paper towels, covered in the ref until ready to use. Basically this trick kept my lovely fern alive and fresh for the next 5 days and was basically ready-to-use since we had so much excess.


Simple Pako Salad or Edible Fern Salad

1 bundle of Pako ( or 2 1/2 cups of sorted and cut Pako leaves)
2 salted eggs, chopped (we used “itik” or duck eggs which we also bought for only P10 each at the farmer’s market)
3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped (the tomatoes were P40 per kilo, also in the farmer’s market)
1/2 cup red onions, chopped

8 tbsp calamansi juice
2 tbsp brown sugar (or more)
1/2 tsp Patis
Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste


1) wash and sort out the Pako. Cut the young leaves and tops off the stems. Discard the stems. Wash the Pako again and put it in a bowl. Depending on the condition of your bundle, you just need about 2 1/2 cups of the Pako for the salad.

2) in another bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together and season to taste. Usually the dressing i make is like a sweeter type of vinaigrette

3) in a big serving bowl, put the Pako, onions, salted egg and tomatoes and toss it lightly. Toss in the dressing when you are just about to serve it because the Pako gets cooked in the acid when left for long.

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9 Comments

  1. Hi Giannina! Thanks for visiting my blog. It was a pleasure to have comments coming from a family of chefs. Happy cooking! 🙂

  2. This salad looks gorgeous, btw. I think I’ll post a salad recipe on my blog soon. 🙂

  3. @GJ thanks! I got so curious about the title Luto ni Lola…it’s exactly what I miss these days! 🙂

  4. Oh I know this vegetable just recently, this pako. I didn’t know that it’s fern. My mom told me that it’s pako when I asked her about it, since it really look so rare. She just mixed this pako in Tinolang Isda. tasted good. Perhaps I can tell mom about this salad. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. @Nonoy Wow tinola with pako? That sounds interesting. It’s nice to know that the fern is versatile enough to be cooked as tinola. 🙂

  6. wow there’s a species of edible fern.. i hope i can perfect the skill of being able to recognize edible plants when i will be in the wild.. that’s going to be a lot of fun..

  7. @Cherrey I think a good trick is to ask the locals. I would really be extra cautious about getting food items off the wild unless you’re 100% sure it’s edible

  8. PAKO has a good benifit to your body. here in manila you cant buy pako in a small market. when i buy pako i just order to the vendor who always come to my house. T he best of pako is to make salad that is great. so to all those who dont know really what is this edible vegetable. try it.

  9. @jeffrey I looooove pako! i only get ours in farmer’s but its still not as fresh as in the provinces

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