Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hawaiian Asparagus

Zesty ho'i'o salad with a side of poi

Some call it fiddlehead fern, some call it ho'i'o, Maui folks call it pohole, and still more call it warabi. Whatever you call it, this very special foraged green is similar in taste and texture to asparagus.

I recently snagged some at the Hilo farmer's market and promptly made a zesty salad. I hope you can find some near you, buy stalks that are firm and green, avoid the wilted ones with tops that have opened considerably. Prepare it like you would asparagus, but be sure rinse well and blanch no matter how you decide to eat them, this helps to remove the little hairs that cover the stalks. My recipe is below and there is another version here: Fern Shoot Salad. If you like green papaya salad, you'll love this recipe.

Zesty Ho'i'o Salad
serves 4-6

1 bunch ho'i'o ferns, about 3 lbs (can also be called pohole, warabi, fiddlehead fern, or pako)
2 green onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
sesame seeds, for garnish

For the dressing:
4 TBL fish sauce
4 TBL lime juice
2 TBL agave or honey
1 tsp chili garlic paste, if desired

Chop ferns into two inch pieces, discarding about 2 inches of the ends as you would asparagus. Rinch ferns well in cold water. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch the ferns in the boiling water for no more than 3 minutes, or until they turn bring green. Strain into a colander and immediately run cold water over them to stop the cooking process until cool to the touch.

In a large bowl mix together dressing ingredients with a fork. Add cooled ferns, chopped green onion, and chopped tomato to the bowl and toss well. It's best if you can allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so, but is also good kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. Top with sesame seeds for garnish. Enjoy!


  1. Sounds good, Gwen. In one of my articles for Ke Ola I shared a recipe for a warabi and shrimp salad that was delish...A few years ago I came up with a recipe for warabi cream soup that is also delicious...

  2. Yum! I just had the best pohole salad a little while ago and now I want more!


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