Nyonya Kerabu Paku Pakis/Nyonya Wild Fern Shoots Kerabu

I managed to score some lovely pucuk paku pakis (Malay for wild fern shoots) at the market here so I decided to try my hand in making a salad (kerabu in Malay) from it. I watched recently a simple kerabu ,prepared in nyonya style and thought of giving it a try.A visit to the market is always worthwhile as you can get large varieties of herbs that you rarely see in supermarkets at incredibly reasonable prices.It was the first time that am making a dish with pucuk paku pakis and actually eating it. Do not confuse the paku pakis with Fiddlehead Ferns Tips as they do have some differences .This is because in some recipes they have translated the paku pakis as fiddlehead fern.At first I thought they were the same, but after some info search, both these varieties differ in many ways. I think picture speaks better then words, so check out the picture below to know the paku pakis . I have discard the stems and used the leaves only.

The fiddle head fern is slightly different whereby the stem makes most of the fern followed a slight curl or coil at the edge with some leaves. Edible fiddleheads are the fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern. Be careful, because there are many look-alikes (including the Braken Fern and Royal Fern), which have been shown to cause stomach cancer in a relatively short time (2 to 5 years). There are many other ferns that resemble the Ostrich Fern, some of which are considered to be carcinogenic, like the Bracken Fern.But I think you can use the edible fiddlehead fern and prepare the dish .The procedure is all the same.When cooking fiddleheads - first, remove all the yellow/brown skin, bring to a boil and remove the water; then, bring up to a boil again and cook until desired tenderness. Removing the water reduces the bitterness and reduces the content of tannins and toxins.Bunga kantan or also known as torch ginger is another important ingredient used in preparing kerabu. The showy pink flowers of a tall perennial look almost too pretty to eat but their flavor is an essential ingredient .

Vietnamese mint has a remarkably similar fragrance and pungency and may be substituted. Some of the popular laksa soups feature a sprinkling of finely shredded ginger bud, while others use laksa leaf. The Malaysian name for ginger flower is bunga kantan or bunga siantan.

150gm pucuk paku pakis/ wild fern shoots (use the leaves and discard the stems)
12 fresh prawns/or chicken pieces
½ a bunga kantan/torch ginger (sliced finely)
5 large shallots(sliced finely)
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp lime juice
1 ½ tbsp fresh coconut (roasted and pounded
1 tbsp groundnuts (roasted and pounded)
Salt and sugar to taste

For the sambal belacan:
10 dried chillies(soak in water for 30mins)
4 shallots
1 nip garlic
½ in shrimp paste
(Grind all the sambal ingredients into a paste and sauté until oil floats .Keep aside)


You can blanch prawns till firm and pink or deep fry it with some turmeric powder and salt as I have done .Either way is acceptable .For the fern , blanch the ferns and then squeeze out excess water from the ferns.

From right: sliced shallots,halve lime,fried prawns and sliced torch ginger/bunga kantan

From right: Roasted and pounded coconut, sambal paste,roasted groundnuts
And blanched Wild Fern Shoots


In a large bowl, mix in finely sliced shallot, torch ginger and sambal paste. Combine until well incorporated. Mix in further with blanched wild fern shoots, pounded coconut and prawns. Stir all the ingredients adding in salt, sugar and lime juice. Finally add in coconut milk and pounded groundnuts .You can sprinkle more the grounded groundnuts as garnishing to give a more crunchy flavor.Serve immediately

Please keep in mind that all type of kerabu dishes should be served immediately once combined .

Note: Today am very happy because I got my first award from Blog Of The Day , which I got for 15th of May 2008 and only checked this morning!!Thats how busy ones life can be at times....I would like to thank them for giving me this precious award

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