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2005.09.22

Comments

RST

Girl, you're on a roll! You're posting at the rate of one terrific piece a day! I could barely keep up with the reading! ;0)

The word pakud in Thai, and pako (generally with a circumflex ^ over the o to indicate accent on that syllable) in the Philippines also refer to fiddlehead ferns, but I suspect that they refer to different varieties and possibly even different species of ferns. I hope to hear more from you about this. About 5 years ago, I visited my dear friend Tina in the city of Davao (island of Mindanao, in the Philippines) and was served a lovely salad of pako that had been simply blanched and then marinated in palm vinegar. Yes, I agree that they probably do not figure in Malay-Chinese cooking.

RST

Put up the previous comments late last night and want to add a few more thoughts.

The last sentence should read: "Because of the proscription in "high" Han culture of "wild" and "raw", I agree that it is unlikely that pako figure in Malay-Chinese cooking.

The late Dr. Doreen Fernandez, who was a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Food and the doyenne of Filipino food writers (there was an article on her work in an issue of Gastronomica from two years ago) listed Atyrium esculentum as the scientific name for pako. In the Philippines, pako could also be simmered (perhaps with young bamboo shoots or tomatoes) in coconut cream for ginataang pako.

Regarding the question of possible toxicity (discussed at some length on egullet), I was told that pako should never be eaten raw, but should always be blanched quickly. This should be the case even with the pakud/phakut being prepared along with other raw vegetables to be dipped in nam phrik.

Robyn

Thanks Richard -- yes, on a roll now but I've probably got a choke waiting for me around the corner. Will have to dig through my old gastronomicas to find that article. So -- the pako in the Philippines you are referring to are the coiled fiddleheads, or the ferns?

boo_licious

Maybe the only place to get them so big are near Frasers Hill or Cameron Highlands where there are lots of ferns growing? The ones I got from the farmers market in Section 17, PJ were tiny miserable ones.

Robyn

Thanks Boo ... will keep in mind. Maybe for a future road trip?

RST

The correct name is Athyrium esculentum.

The Winter 2003 issue of Gastronomica has the long article on Doreen as well as one of her pieces on Filipino cuisine.

The fiddleheads I had at Tina's were delicate little tips just slightly larger than a thumbnail. They were tightly-curled miniature croziers and not as baroque and wildly flaying as your flamboyant Balinese ferns. My understanding is that smaller is usually snappier and that tinier specimens are preferred for brighter/greener (+ less bitter/muted?) flavor. But then again I suspect that there are actually many very different species of ferns (with very different flavor/textural attributes) that have been lumped togther under the general heading of paku/pako/phakud.

Ee

hi.. do anyone know any medicinal benefit of this type of paku-pakis? anywhere to search for the info?
thanks

Robyn

Ee -- I googled "edible ferns medicinal qualities" and came up with this link:

http://www.anbg.gov.au/fern/ferns-man-ng.html#medicine

It's about medicinal uses for wild ferns in Papau New Guineau (conclusion seems to be that most 'benefits' are imagined rather than real). There were a few other links as well.

Hutton's "A Cook's Guide to Asian Vegetables" (Periplus Editions, 2004) has this to say about 'nutritional and medicinal properties' of fern tips: "...rich in beta-carotene, iron and phosphorus". That's it. They're also a great source of dietary fiber and carbos.

Hope that helps!

Good luck!

Ee

Thanks a lot robyn..

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