I had the strongest desire to write this down almost immediately. This is the first time I am making this ever since I started this blog. Nostalgia, this dish brings back lots of cherished memories from the yesteryears not only for myself, possibly for many of you who are reading this too. If I am making you miss home a lot more, especially for those in faraway lands, awww...I plead my guilt :)
A simple stir fry green dish but these greens are special. They grow wild. Known as paku-pakis in the Malay language it's actually a type of wild fern shoots. In fact if we share the same homeland, I am pretty sure that just by looking at these photos you would have formed a conclusion that say she's from a kampung (aka village) :) Yes, I was from a kampung :) This started off as a delicacy of the rural people although it is available in some restaurants nowadays. These greens cooked in chili paste, dried shrimps and shrimp paste is so crunchy, refreshing, flavorful, spicy...in short heavenly.
It's the rainy season now, and these ferns grow in abundance in this weather. Flashback...when I was young and living in my kampung, we got to eats lots of these during rainy seasons. Big Uncle will pluck them from his rubber estate for Ah Mah to cook. The other wild plant that we get during the rainy season is a type of mushroom that is so delicious when cooked in chinese wine, i shall not deviate and steal the limelight from this beautiful fern this time around. Then comes the phone call informing us about the bountiful 'harvest' and asking us to go back to savor them. There was so much to share, everyone gets to eat their to heart's content! I remember some of us would take a whole rice bowl of these greens and just munch away on them like having a nice green snack. And today, all I got was this measly amount for RM2.
Here's a piece of advice dished out by Ah Mah ~
Since this is a wild plant, there's this risk of picking plants that have been contaminated (possibly from picking the wrong fern or those that got some pesticide sprayed to rid weeds in the estate). So, the golden words from Ah Mah was to throw in a few slices of ginger when stir-frying, if ginger turns black, this means these ferns are not to be eaten.
Only the shoots are to be eaten, discard the stems (starting from the portion that you can't break with your fingers). So, prettily green they are, aren't they?
The greens are then blanched in hot water. This step is obmitted in some recipes, but we do this to get rid of the puckery taste and also to lessen the stir frying time which will make it look dark and wimpy otherwise.
- 1 bundle of paku pakis (approximately 150g)
- 30g dried shrimp
- 1 tsp dried shrimp paste granules
- 5 shallots, sliced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili paste
- Slices of red chili (optional)
- Juice from 1 calamansi/lime
- 1 tsp sugar
- Stir fry shallots, garlic, dried shrimps and shrimp paste granules until fragrant.
- Add in blanched paku pakis.
- Mix and stir fry until shoots are slightly withered.
- Add in calamansi juice
- Dish up and serve hot with white rice.