Paku Ikan /Paku Pakis/Pucuk paku (Diplazium esculentum)
To Sarawakians abroad,memories of some of the jungle produce never fade despite of their long distance away from their homeland,Sarawak.Very often you can hear them whinning for miding,paku and terung asam.In this post is a wild fern called Paku Pakis ,Pucuk Paku or simply Paku Ikan.This is grade A Paku Ikan with a lot of frond curls and a few leaves.We stir fry it with vegetarian belacan and chillies or cook in ulam.It can be cooked in curry with potatoes too.
This wild fern called Paku pakis can be found in abundance at the road side,along the streams and drains and at the open spaces in Kuching City.Hence the price is much lower than that of the miding.
This Grade B Paku pakis shown in the picture below has less frond curls and is more leafy.Actually paku pakis can be found in Indonesia,Singapore,Taiwan,Philippines,Japan,China and West Malaysia.In Chinese it is called 过山猫。
Like midin,they grow well on peat soil area and they are naturally free of pests.Nobody cares to cultivate them because they grow practically everywhere in this part of the world.It is much cheaper than Paku midin but is no less popular than Paku midin.
Best way to cook Paku pakis is stir fry it with vegetarian belacan.
Stir-fried Paku pakis in sambal belacan
300 g Paku pakis
20 g vegetarian belacan
3 dry chilies (minced)
5 stalks of lemon grass (crushed)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup of sweetened grated coconut – made from 1/2 cup of grated coconut and 1/4 cup of brown sugar.Roast the grated coconut in the wok till it turns slightly brown.Add brown sugar and cook till the mixture thickens.
Blanch the Paku Pakis and drain.
Fry the belacan,chilies,curry powder and lemon grass together.
Stir-fry the fern with the belacan.
Add 1/4 cup of water.
Cook till the ferns become soft but not overcooked.
Season with 1 tsp of light soya source.
Top with sweetened grated coconut.
Paku pakis tastes great in vegetarian curry too.Recipe will beincluded in another post.
Bundles of Paku Pakis for sale by the natives is a usual sight all over the markets in Kuching city.They look fresh and display a lustre of green on their leaves and fronds.
Quite often people,even some locals,get confused with Paku midin,Paku pakis and Paku kubuk.Get familiar with our edible ferns by eating them.That is the only way to learn about our gems from our forests.
Woo……..,hoolahoolahoola…lala…..la……Look, what is in here? It is the Queen of the jungle Ferns in Sarawak,Midin.You won’t miss midin when you come to Kuching.During our younger days, Midin grew in abundance in Kuching but nowadays they are shying away from the city heavy traffic and hiding their cute little fronds in the villages and farmhouses.Price of midin has shot up rocket high ever since(光叶藤蕨 ).
Picking wild edible ferns like Paku midin and Paku pakis in the bush was one of our childhood past time activities.We even competed for picking the ferns.Whoever had the biggest bundle of midin would be awarded with more bundles of midin from other participants.I was never the champion.There were always somebody who had better motor skills than me.
Paku midin is well-loved by Sarawakians and I believe students studying aboard do miss this Paku midin from our homeland.I remembered when I studiedin Kuala Lumpur 35 years ago,I had my good share of sobs,partly due to homesick and partly because I missed midin so much.
The five grades of Paku Midin are displayed here:
Grade 1 Paku Midin
– With fiddleheads,straight fleshy stems and very few leaves.Best for stir-fry and is the most sought after midin by restaurants and sea food centers.It tastes good and has crispy texture even after the cooking process.
Grade 2 midin
– With some loosen fiddleheads,thinner stems and more leaves.Personally this writer prefers Grade 2 Midin because it is cheaper and less slimy than the Grade 1 midin.May be its stem is not as crispy and fleshy as the Grade 1 Midin after cooking but it is still very popular among the locals.
Grade 3 Midin
– With loosen fiddleheads,thinner stems and are more leafy.It is quite troublesome to pick the leaves of this grade 3 midin but picking leaves of grade 4 midin is really a nightmare.
Grade 4 Midin
– No fiddleheads , harder stems and are leafy with some big mature leaves.Best for cooking soup with Cangkok manis or Sabong(melinjou) leaves.
It is very troublesome to pick leaves of Grade 4 Midin because of those minute leaves so we mothers are just too happy to go for the ready – picked midin in baskets.
Grade 5 Paku Midin
– is a mixture of fleshy stems,some shoots and some young fronds of Paku Midin.Some people do not go for midin shoots but I am very fond of this Grade 5 midin with crispy and fleshy shoots and stems.To me,this is in fact the top grade midin.
Grade 1 Paku Midin stir- fried with slices of ginger and fresh mushrooms.
200 g Grade 1 midin (use only the fiddleheads and cut about 2 ” length)
100 g fresh oyster mushroom (tear into strips)
2 ” long ginger (sliced thinly)
1 chilli (sliced thinly)
1 tsp miso
1/2 tsp light soya source
Wash and drain the fiddleheads.
Fry the mushrooms and ginger together.
When the ginger slices are slightly brown,add in midin and chilli.
Sprinkle some water if necessary.
The crunchy ferns are ready with miso and light soya source being added.
Wakakakaka……Somebody can’t help drooling as he/she is viewing thispost.