Heaven sent…

In a way, they are heaven sent as these jungle ferns or paku as they are called locally grow wild in the belukar (bush) and somebody would just have to go and pluck them for self-consumption or for sale…

Paku - wild jungle fern

Unlike the celebrated midin, these are not so popular at the (Chinese) restaurants here but you may find it served at some of the Malay stalls/shops or here. Other than that, while midin is not available in the peninsula, paku is…but from what I saw in the hotel buffets, it was usually served as a kerabu (served raw/pickled as a sourish salad).

I do not like to buy paku as it is a chore to prepare. You need to get rid of the harder part of each stalk and use a knife to slice the softer upper part into two…or sometimes, even four to make it easier to chew when served. But the other morning, I saw them selling it at RM3.00 for a BIG bag…and when I got home, I decided to cook one-third of it for dinner.

Normally, if you buy it at the native market, they will tie it in a bundle and sell it for RM2.00 each. When you reach home and untie the bundle, you may find all kinds of paku inside – old ones, leafless stalks or other kinds of non-edible fern and after getting rid of these, there would not be very much left.

I like it best when fried with hay bee (dried prawns) and belacan (dried prawn paste). I had a post on this recipe before (when I cooked some sweet potato leaves) but anyway, these were the ingredients I prepared that day…

STP's fried paku - ingredients

– 1 shallot and three cloves of garlic, peeled, cut and pounded plus some pounded chilli, hay bee and belacan.

Heat up a bit of oil and fry the shallot and garlic till golden brown, add the hay bee…and fry till golden brown too and finally, put in the chilli and belacan before throwing in the paku. Add just a little bit of water and stir fry till cooked. There is no need to add salt as usually, the belacan is already salty…and no msg is required either.

STP's fried paku 1

That certainly looks nicer than what was served at a buffet dinner at a local hotel that I attended sometime ago.

An alternative would be to add a little bit of santan (coconut milk) in which case you will have a drier version of masak lemak…or perhaps, if you have more people eating, you may want to break an egg in the dish for that extra volume when served.

Personally, I feel that this wild jungle fern is just as nice as the more popular midin, if not nicer.