'Pako,' the edible fern
Posted: 10:54 PM (Manila Time) | Sept. 18, 2002
By Eufemia C. Estrada, Contributor
Inquirer News Service

Cheap source of Vitamin A

HOMEMAKERS in search of a cheap source of
Vitamin A need not go far. Though not as widely
accepted in urban areas as pechay, kangkong and
camote tops, pako is a familiar vegetable to our provincial sisters.

This edible fern is now more easily available in Metro Manila than it was when I
was a kid; thanks to weekend markets like Tesda in Taguig and Sidcor in
Cubao, QC, that traders from nearby provinces join.

I have not been going to Sidcor
lately for fear that I might twist my
foot and sprain my ankle walking on
stony paths. (When will organizers
make this market more
customer-friendly?) I have not been
able to ascertain if pako is available
all year round or is seasonal.

Anyway, I have more than a passing
acquaintance with pako.

There are two varieties of pako
available in these two weekend
markets: one dark green with a tight coil on top, and the light green variety with
little or less pronounced coils.

Pako is usually blanched and served with vinaigrette. The only time I remember
pako being served raw was in Lukban, Quezon, where it was served with fresh
tomatoes, sliced onions, a vinaigrette and sardines.

Pako, the daughter of the ex-mayor Tia Precy Baldovino told us, had been
handpicked by their cook from the foot of Mt. Banahaw, and not from the

My cousin Nenggay from Zamboanga City used to add pako to her Gata de
Cangrejo. Tess Chio, my cousin Nony's wife, always has pako on weekends
when she is in their Morong residence.

She gets the pako from the Balanga market where they drop by for fresh fish
and shrimp and other provisions before proceeding to Morong.

In Davao City maybe two decades or so ago, I remember my fellow school
paper adviser, Glo Mejia (of Arayat, Pampanga) prepared a salad of blanched
pako, fresh tomatoes, sliced onions, boiled potatoes and sliced hard-cooked
eggs for our group, which included six or seven high school students.

It was not just a feast for the palate, but also for the eyes. Weren't these kids
lucky to have two good cooks as teacher-chaperons, billeted in a private
house, feasting on hot home-cooked meals (we did our own marketing and
cooking), while other delegations were housed in schoolrooms turned
dormitories and had their meals in huge, impersonal mess rooms?

More recently, on an invitation to Liliw, Laguna, where Baby Consunji, another
good cook, hails from, we were served pako cooked in gata with small shrimp.
Even my driver Jerry rated this among the best versions he has had of pako.

So, you see there are more ways of preparing pako than merely blanching it
and tossing it with a vinaigrette dressing.

'Pako,' the edible fern
Posted: 10:54 PM (Manila Time) | Sept. 18, 2002
By Eufemia C. Estrada, Contributor
Inquirer News Service

Pako recipes

Here's a couple of recipes from a collection of
economical and nutritious alternate foods prepared by
the Research Group of the Food Service and Nutrition
Department of the University of the Philippines, headed
by Leonora N. Panlasigui and Sonia Y. de Leon.

Pako Salad
(Dipolog City)

6 c pako leaves, washed well
3/4 c native vinegar
1 onion, sliced
1 medium pc ginger, sliced into
5 tsp refined sugar
2 tsp salt
3 medium tomatoes, sliced

Steam pako leaves. Remove from
fire. In a separate bowl, mix
vinegar, onion and ginger. Add
sugar and salt. Pour this mixture
over the pako leaves and toss well.
Garnish with tomatoes. Serves six.

Pako Salad
(Surigao City)

Same as Dipolog version but omit sugar and add 1 tbsp of calamansi juice.


3 c pako, young leaves and stalks
1 1/2 c coconut, grated
2 tbsp native vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 onion, sliced into rings
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into rounds

Blanch pako leaves and stalks. Toast grated coconut and add to the pako
together with the vinegar, salt, onion and tomatoes. Toss lightly. Serves six.

Pako Ginataan

2 1/2 c coconut milk
2 c pako tops and leaves
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 c shrimp, whole
1 1/2 tsp salt

Boil pako tops and leaves, garlic, onion and shrimp in coconut milk for about 3
mins, stirring continuously to prevent curdling. Season with salt. Serve hot.

Ginataang Susong Pilipit

1 c pure coconut milk
3 1/2 coconut milk, second extraction
5 c susong pilipit, washed and end portion cut
4 tbsp salt
3 c pako

Boil susong pilipit in thin coconut milk. Season with salt. Cover and let boil for
10 mins. Add pure coconut milk and pako. Cook for another 5 mins.

Note: Aside from Vitamin A, this is also rich in calcium from the susong pilipit