Friday, February 13, 2009

Wild Fern Vegetables

The edible 'true fern' - Paku Benar ( Athyrium esculentum) synonym:Diplazium esculenthum

Just the other day while on the way out of the Jong's Crocodle farm road, I had fun collecting the young fronds of the edible fern called locally as 'Paku Benar' which directly translated means true fern. There are many varieties of ferns in Sarawak but truly the ones that I like are three, viz the 'midin' ( stenochlaena palustris), 'paku uban' (Nephrolepsis falcata) and the 'paku benar' (Athyrium esculentum ) . This pinnate-leaved fern grows wild along roadsides, open spaces and sometimes shady areas that are swampy or near rivers and water courses. They can reach a maximum of 1-1.5 m high and thus is easy to pluck. At any local jungle produce market throughout Sarawak one can buy them at RM1-2 a bundle depending on size and locality.

These ferns are so prevalent in Sarawak that nobody will attempt to grow them on a commercial scale . There are everywhere for the picking. There are three ways I eat this fern. First you can stir fry it . The next method is my favourite i.e. as a salad by just immersing it into boiling water and then dipping into the many traditional sauce available like 'budu','cencaluk' or 'belacan'( shrimp paste ). Thirdly it can be cooked in coconut milk. It is found that the fern is a good source of phosphorous, iron and vitamin B.

I have not planted them at my farm in Bintulu yet because there is the alternative 'midin' fern that grows in wild abundance there. To find out more about the 'midin' at my eco-farm in Bintulu, follow this link

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