Star Noodle & Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, Lahaina, Maui

Fiddle Head Ferns, known in Hawaiian as Ho’i’o, Pohole here in Maui, Warabi in Japanese, or Pako in Filipino, grow in abundance on Hamakua side of the Big Island and rainy tropical Hana on Maui. Ho’i’o grows on damp forest floors, usually adjacent to a running water, its shoots resemble the head of a “fiddle” hence the name Fiddle Head Fern

Ho’i’o Fern
Hawaiian Salt
Ice Water Bath, (a lot of ice)

Cut Ho’i’o Fern into 1 ½” pieces getting rid of hard bottoms of the fern shoot. Fill a sink or large bowl with cool tap water. Wash fern vigorously in this water, using the same motion as you would wash a pot of rice. Empty out dirty water and repeat this process over and over until water becomes very clear. In a large non-reactive stainless steel pot, heat Water and Hawaiian Salt over high heat. When water comes to a roaring boil, add Ho’i’o Ferns, gently stir and cook for one minute (if preparing large amount of Ho’i’o, divide fern shoots and cook in small batches). With a wire strainer scoop out fern shoots and immediately plunge into Ice Water Bath. Mix to ensure all fern shoots are cooled properly. Drain fern shoots in colander. Keys to proper fern cooking:
*Proper washing of fern
*Salty, Salty cooking water. Water should taste like the ocean, about half cup of Hawaiian Salt or a cup of Kosher Salt to every gallon of water.
*Big Pot Blanching ~ blanch in large quantity of water relative to the amount of fern shoots you’re cooking, so you won’t significantly lower the boiling temperature, and lose the boil when you add the cold fern shoots.