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.
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.