A Taste From Childhood

“Gulay na Pako” or edible fiddle head ferns in coconut milk and crab reminds me of my childhood, during those gloomy rainy days.

In the past, during rainy days, my mother would always ask me to go to the river and gather some edible ferns. I would readily follow as I love going-out to the mountains to pick some guavas, gather firewood, edible ferns, and sometimes freshwater snails, we call, “tabagwang” or “suso” in some parts of Bicol.

Once I arrive at home, my Mother would prepare to cook our meal, mostly vegetables and in some days, if I get lucky, I brought home some “suso” (freshwater edible snails) and crabs that I get from the river.

“Gulay na Pako” has a salty-sweet taste (because of the sweetnesss of the coco milk and saltiness from the crab). The fern is very nutritious and a good source of vitamin B2, copper, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin B3 and C and manganese.

Every time I eat this dish now that I am already a young adult, I would always remember the hands that cooked for us and nurtured us for many years, my mother. Though, we just celebrated Mother’s Day recently and tomorrow, will be our special day for the fathers, this post is for all the mothers, who make delicious foods and are always nurturing their children to their best.

I remember the time when I ate this dish with my family, the taste was so good, I just want to savor for lifetime. The thought of being with my family on gloomy, rainy days, gives me strength and determination that maybe, the next day will be different, the sun may set, and we’ll have many bright days ahead.

Should you wish to have a taste and try this dish, the ingredients are simple, pako or edible young fern (we have a lot of this in Bicol), freshly grated coconut meat (for cocomilk), sea water crab ( I bought half-kilo for PhP120.00), ginger, onion, garlic and green chili.

For the procedure, you need to wash and clean the crabs, put in a pot and cook for some minutes. You will see that their outer shells will turn to red. After cooking the crab, you may extract coco milk from the coconut meat, put it in a pan together with the sliced onions, garlic and ginger. Bring all these to boil, then put the cooked crab. After some stirrings, you may put pako or fern and the green chilies. Wait for some more minutes until the fern have been thoroughly cooked. Add a pinch of salt and sugar, if needed. Serve it hot with steamed rice.

Cheers to this cheap yet very nutritious dish of Bicolanos! Cheers to all the hands that cook for their family!

Published by Maria Cristina Gino Baroso

Education advocate and travel lover

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