Pako Fern Salad

It is the rainy season again, and this means that pako ferns (or fiddleheads) are back in season!  They are best eaten the same day that they are purchased as they deteriorate rather quickly.

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The pako is traditionally made into a salad.  I used to prepare the salad with the pako raw.  But I’ve since been told (by the market vendor, no less) that the pako ferns, while edible, should be blanched, as they have some form of mild poison.  The market vendor taught me to blanche them briefly in boiling water, just for a few seconds, and then immediately put them in an ice bath.  To dry them, I spin them in a salad spinner.

The recipe:

2 to 3 bundles of pako fern, blanched and chilled
2 large tomatoes, sliced into slivers (seeds removed)
1 large red (Spanish) onion, sliced thinly
2 red (salted) eggs, chopped coarsely
kesong puti, crumbled (or feta)

calamansi vinaigrette, recipe follows

Toss all ingredients, except the kesong puti, together. Chill in the meantime.  Right before serving, toss with the calamansi vinaigrette and garnish with kesong puti.

Other optional ingredient suggestions include cucumbers, slivered green mangoes, and/or garlic chips.

Calamansi Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup native vinegar
juice from 1 large calamansi
1 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
1 to 2 tbsp. crushed mixed peppercorns
2 to 3 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

Place ingredients in a salad dressing shaker (or even a air-tight container) and shake until combined.

Note:  if using regular vinegar, use just 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and water.  Substitute calamansi with lemon if calamansi is not available.

 

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