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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Fiddling Around With Pohole Fern Shoots

Ho'io Salad PHOTO COURTESY JAYSEN HO'OPAI, WAIAHOLE POI FACTORY

Ho’io Salad PHOTO COURTESY JAYSEN HO’OPAI, WAIAHOLE POI FACTORY

Colleen Kimura is the owner and designer of Tutuvi, a tropical design collection of screen-printed fabric, clothing, interior furnishings and banners inspired by plants, sea life and material cultures of Hawaii, Polynesia and Pacific islands. The granddaughter of Japanese and Korean immigrants, Colleen was born and raised in Hawaii, and the Pacific islands always have held a fascination for her. The Tutuvi collection can be found at Nohea Gallery and Na Mea Hawaii in Ward Warehouse, as well as at Waiahole Poi Factory on the Windward side of Oahu, and is available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. One of Colleen’s favorite dishes there is Ho’io Salad. The main ingredient, fiddlehead ferns, are gathered in Waiahole valley, where they grow wild. The owners are happy to share this delicious recipe with MidWeek readers.

This native fern is known on Maui as “pohole,” and called “ho’io” on Hawaii and the other islands. The deep-green ferns produce large fronds that range from 3 to 6 feet long and produce green shoots that unfurl from the coiled head of the fern. They have a buttery, sweet flavor and a slightly crunchy texture. Pohole ferns are mostly water, high in iron, and contain some calcium and magnesium.

The pohole fern is entirely edible and may be prepared fresh or cooked. Snap off the bottom end as you would asparagus, then blanch to preserve their color. Rinse lightly in water to remove any fine hairs on the fern. Put them in a dry container with a damp cloth, making sure to keep all ferns inside, and they should keep, refrigerated, for about a week. Traditionally these ferns were stored wrapped in ti leaves to keep them fresh.

HO’IO SALAD

* 1 pound ho’io, cut into 1-inch pieces and blanched

* 1/2 medium onion, sliced

* 1 tomato, chopped

* 1/2 ounce dried shrimp, chopped

For Ho’io Sauce:

* 4 tablespoons shoyu (may use low-sodium)

* 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)

* 1 finger ginger, peeled and sliced

Mix all ingredients with sauce and chill for at least one hour. Serve chilled.

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