The Yummy Pako!

Pako is fern in english. Pako, pronounced slower in Tagalog is nail. No, we do not eat iron nails here in our province. We eat the river fern or pako found mostly beside bodies of fresh water. (Most people know the ornamental fern used in flower arrangements.)

In our public market, I see pako being sold once in a while. Way back in my teenage years while vacationing in Guagua, Pampanga, I remember gathering pako by the bank of the sapa or creek.

This pako is a regional delicacy I have learned to eat when I was young (I remember my father telling me when I was a kid that I can live in the mountains coz I eat wild/exotic plants). Popular in some regions, but not quite known in some. Whenever I see the pako being sold nowadays, I make sure I buy some and prepare on of my best green salads!

Pako or river fern salad with tomatoes, onion and salted eggs. Smoked fish flakes are optional, but highly recommended.

But I am sure these are edible... and here is how I prepare the.... (drumrolls please!)

Exciting Fern Salad!

very simple steps:

1. Dice onion and tomatoes

2. Mix with red (salted eggs)

3. Add Tinapa or smoked fish flakes (you can etiher buy the falked tinapa or buy a tinapa, fry it first before removing the scales, the bones then flake the meat into small pieces.)

4. Blanch the fern tops ( blanch the leaves really briefly with hot water)

5. Squeeze calamansi juice (or lemon juice)

6. Mix all ingredients.. Serve!

Vinegar and garlic mix (ala vinaigrette) can also be used for this salad!!

Well, it is of course best served with rice and....crackling liempo (crispy fried pork belly with ribs!) Whoaaa!


The Fern plant we have here is fiddlehead or ostrich fern. The leaves really look like big ostrich feather when full grown and like the violin's fiddlehead when young and curled.

Ostrich FernFamily: PolypodiaceaePteretis pensylvanica or Matteuccia struthiopteris

Fiddleheads are young, edible, fern shoots that are gathered when they are still curled. They

are very similar in shape to the head of a violin, hence their name. These vegetables are gathered in the spring when they are still tightly curled and between 4 and 6 inches high. This period last for about 15 days between mid-April and early July, depending on the region.

Ostrich Fern look like big feather-like leaves growing out of the ground. Also look for the fiddleheads of the fern, which are small sprouts of fern that curl up tightly at the tops. Eventually, the fiddlehead will unravel into the more identifiable feather-looking plants.Leaves: The leaves of Fern are called fronds. There are two types of fronds, one that is sterile that are dark green and "plume like" and another that is fertile, which is dark brown and resembles dark brown feathers.Habitat: Rich, moist, or wet soil by streams, rivers, edges of swamps, and open woods.Location: Some Ostrich Fern grow at the low parts of Sachar Woods, where rain collects and sometimes forms a stream. While still tightly curled and under 15 cm (6 inches), the Ostrich Fern is good in salad or as asparagus.