Pako salad, or fiddlehead fern salad, is a salad dish served in restaurants, and it is a must-have whenever you see it on the menu. It costs a lot in Western countries, but, luckily, pako is available in the Philippines and other Asian countries. Its crisp texture makes it a refreshing salad that will surely satisfy your panlasang pinoy.
In the Philippines, we have the vegetable ferns, locally known as the “pako”. They can be found growing in strong streams, rivers and freshwater swamps, and they are more abundant during the rainy season. Be careful if you are going to harvest the pako by yourself, because not all fiddlehead ferns are edible, and others may contain toxins harmful for your health. They are also available in bundles at local markets for a cheap cost, which is perfect for those who are working on a budget, but still want to serve good food.
Pako salad is not just appetizing and delicious, it also provides several health benefits. It is perfect for those who are on a diet, since pako contains fiber, which is helpful for weight loss, and also for people with diabetes. Eating pako salad also provides you your daily nutritional requirement, since it is rich in minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus for proper heart function, bone strengthening, and energy production. Pako salad also has Vitamins A, C and some B-complex.
This pako salad recipe is very simple and easy to follow. It just calls for four ingredients that can be easily bought in the market. Pako is usually eaten raw, as long as you rinse them properly. You can also soak them in cold water first before washing. If you want to be sure, you can blanch the pako boiling water before putting them in cold water. Just add tomatoes, onion, salted egg to add more flavor, and dress it with vinegar, sugar, olive oil and black pepper for that tangy yet sweet taste. You can also use other ingredients. Some pako recipes use lemon juice instead of vinegar, honey instead of sugar, and regular boiled eggs if you want a healthier option. You may also use bagoong as dressing and add smoked fish or tinapa.
- 3 cups fern, washed
- 3 large tomatoes, sliced into cubes
- 1 cup unripe (green) mangoes, sliced into cubes
- 2 pieces salted egg (substitute hard-boiled eggs if this is unavailable)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons calamansi juice
- First, wash the ferns thoroughly. Get a strainer to remove the excess water before setting it aside.
- In a small bowl, pour 3 tablespoons fish sauce and 4 tablespoons calamansi juice. Mix together and set aside for later use.
- Peel the salted eggs (hard-boiled eggs as an alternative). Quarter the eggs before cutting into smaller crescents. Prepare the tomatoes and mangoes. Slice the tomatoes into quarters before slicing it into small cubes. On the other, slice the mangoes into small cubes similarly.
- After preparing the ingredients, get a large bowl and mix the ferns and dressing. Mix thoroughly until the taste is balanced. Before serving, garnish with green mangoes, tomatoes and sliced eggs. Serve fresh.