Fern is one of the staples at the markets around Honiara. It’s sold in big bunches, wrapped with a banana leaf. While I’ve appreciated it from a distance, I’ve never quite known how to cook it and make it a regular part of my diet. Everyone raves about the healthiness and taste of fern, so I was beyond thrilled when a friend asked me along to a fern cooking lesson.
Excited by my newfound knowledge, I’ve written up the steps to share. The quantity of fern and other ingredients will depend heavily on how much salad you plan on making, and also how much of each ingredient you enjoy eating (being a salad, just be guided by your taste requirements). As a guide, for seven of us, we used two bunches of fern.
Thank you so much to Sam and Sarina who ran this tutorial and educated us fern novices. We really appreciated all the effort you went to!
- Red Onion
- Red Chillis
- Coconut Cream
- Salt and Pepper
Step 1: Separate all the leaves off the long fern stalks. It is only the leaves that you will use in the salad (don’t worry too much about getting all the small parts of the stalk off, just use what you would like to eat as your guide).
Step 2: Wash the fern leaves in cold water. We first strained the leaves using a colander, then washed them using our hands in a bowl, and then strained them again. This may sound thorough but it’s really important to get rid of any bugs that may have been living on your food.
Step 3: Boil a saucepan full of water. Once bubbling away, blanch the fern leaves by dropping them into the hot water. It took one minute for all the fern to be gently placed into the saucepan.
Keeping the water boiling, cook the leaves until they are soft but there is a little crunch to the remaining stalks. For us, this was approximately 4-5 minutes of cooking time. Once cooked, strain the water out and then pour some cold water on the fern to help it cool down.
Step 4: Cut up the tomatoes, onion and chilli that you will add to your salad. These are just the ingredients that we chose – you can be creative and pop anything in that you feel like!
Step 5: Prepare your coconut cream and ginger salad dressing. You can either buy coconut cream ready to go or you can squeeze the cream out of grated coconut flesh. Add a little grated ginger to the coconut cream.
Step 6: Put your fern in a large bowl and then add the tomato, onion and chilli. Pour on your salad dressing and squeeze some lemon over the top if you so desire. Season with salt and pepper.
And then it’s ready for eating! While I knew I would enjoy the meal, I was absolutely taken away by the taste sensation. It was so yummy and I could tell it was healthy too.