Back when we were little children in Marag, Philippines, pako became a staple diet. It was in our dinner table at least once a week. We ate a lot of it so much that we kids 🙂 should have grown into goats 🙂 or hated it after a while. But I have always a vibrant and positive memory of pako.
Gathering pako is an adventure for us youngster. We had to roam a dense growth of greens at the mouth of a forest and try to pick the young furling sprouts of pako. Thank goodness they grow profusely together and therefore picking them one by one was not much of a chore.
Pako can be prepared in plenty of ways, it can be blanched and made into a salad, it can be left fresh as it is as a salad as well or cook and added into various kind of inabraw, an Ilocano way of cooking.
Below is another pako salad recipe.
1 large bunch pako (fern)
2 salted eggs or hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
sprinkling of salt to taste
Method of Preparation:
prepare the pako by removing any tough stalk.
Bring a large pot of boiling water. Blanch the pako by quickly dipping them into the hot water. Leave for a minute and drain.
Arranged the pako on a serving platter.
Put the tomatoes and onion on top then garnish with the slices of salted eggs.
Make a typical Filipino dressing by mixing the vinegar, fish sauce, black pepper, sugar and a very little salt. Stir it in thoroughly for the granules to dissolve.
Peter and I love crispy seaweeds. We always order it as one of our starters when we dine out in Chinese restaurants.
There is something about its crispy texture that is rather pleasing to the tastebuds.
Of course we are well aware that this seaweed is not really seaweed as we know it. It did not come from the sea. 🙂 In fact it is made from finely shredded spring green cabbage.
Peter asked me why is it then called a seaweed?!!! To hazard guest, I think because it does look like a seaweed when it is being prepared and cooked. Its corrugated crispy texture is like seaweed.
Anyway, as I have said, it is quite delicious and here a recipe for it.
Crispy Seaweed Recipe
250 g Spring green cabbage (Kale is a good substitute)
1½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp shrimp powder (optional)
Oil for deep frying
Method of Preparation:
Prepare the spring green by washing it completely and ridding it of grits and little insects, you never know! 🙂 . Trim off the tough stalks that run through each leaf. Drain the leaves thoroughly with kitchen paper towels.
Using a good chopping board and an equally good and sharp knife, sliced the leaves into thin ribbons.
Spread them in a flat surface for 10-15 minutes to allow them to completely dry.
Heat the oil in a wok or a deep-fat fryer.
To cook the finely shredded cabbage evenly, they must be done in batches. Carefully lower a bit of the spring green shreds into the hot oil. When they have been cook they would crinkle and float. Remove them with a slotted ladle and put them over kitchen paper towels to soak up excess oil. Do the same thing with the rest of the batch.
For the topping, mix the the sugar and salt with the shrimp powder and sprinkle over the cabbage.
Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.
Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.
One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time are beetroots. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Excessive bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce it’s quality.
All Photos By PH Morton
After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals. This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂
If using home grown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.
Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.
Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.
Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-
Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.
Place the beetroots in a suitable sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.
Boil for two hours.
Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.
Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.
The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.
Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.
Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.
Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.
If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.
Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated. In practice, it can be longer.
But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.
There is Asian tradition to serve noodles on birthdays for long life. Added to this, I saw in a Korean drama that one must eat the first spoonful or chopstick-ful of noodles without chewing or biting on to the strands so that one life span is not cut short. 🙂
James said that he might choke on the noodles if he swallowed them whole. 🙂 He’s got a point but I told him I have got my mobile phone ready to call an ambulance and while waiting for them to arrive, I will give him the Heimlich manoeuvre.
To report, he was fine and had a good time at his birthday dinner.
500g egg noodle (miki)
4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 carrot, peeled, julliened
125 g bean sprouts
1/2 green bell pepper, julliened
1/2 Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
125 g baby corn, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp sesame oil
Method of Preparation:
Prepare the noodles. Cook it according to the packet’s instruction. Drain and run it under cool water to prevent it from cooking further. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil using a large pan or better yet a wok over high heat.
Stir in the onions and then the carrots and baby corn. Fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the bell pepper, cabbage, bean-sprouts and the noodles.
Tip in the soy sauce, sherry, salt, sugar, cornflour and sesame oil.
Stir-fry until the seasoning has been mixed in thoroughly.
This recipe is one of my favourite. It slight sour taste makes for a good hearty meal.
1 banana blossom (a can of banana blossom from Asian supermarket)
1 cup coconut milk (fresh or canned)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
50 g of cooked pork, sliced into thin strips (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Method of Preparation:
Prepare the banana blossom (if using the fresh sort) by removing and discarding the tough outer layers. Then slice thinly crosswise.
Soak the slices in salty water for 10 minutes. Then squeeze until most of the liquid had been drained out. The procedure is to remove any bitter taste from the banana heart (if only you can also do this with the human heart 🙂 lol)
Rinse the banana heart slices in cold water and then set aside to drain.
Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan.
Saute the garlic until aromatic and golden brown, please do not burn, otherwise it will leave a bitter taste.
Add the onion and the tomatoes to the garlic and allow to cook for 3 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and the onion translucent.
Stir in the banana blossom as well as the pork (if using)
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the vinegar and leave to simmer for 2 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk. Give it a stir and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Remove from heat and serve immediately with freshly boiled rice.