Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pikopiko - fern tips

Pikopiko is the tip of a fern plant - and pops up in New Zealand cuisine once and in a while.

However, don't don't, just go out into the forest and grab yourself some. You have to know what you are doing. There are 312 types of ferns growing in New Zealand and only seven are edible - the others bitter and possibly carcinogenic (just like the air we breath these days).

Ok so which of the ferns are edible - well apparently once is called the Hen and Chicken Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum). But again - be careful - as the one's you buy at the plant shop are often crossed.

You can buy them here - not sure how much -

So yeh if you are keen I suggest you go on a Maori food tour -

The edible fronds are known as the "bush asparagus" - or these days as the Pikopiko. Pikopiko is flash these days  - often appearing as a garnish - on the Air New Zealand business class menu (ahhhhhh Air New Zealand business class - way better than Singapore Airlines - I mean how many oily noodles and cold prawns can one eat!).

Pikopiko also makes a mean pesto:

1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic
100 gms sunflower seeds
500 gms pikopiko stems
pinch salt

Lightly fry sunflower seeds in sunflower oil until golden brown.
Wash and clean pikopiko stalks making sure to remove all the brown speckles and fern leaves from the stalk. This removes the bitterness.
Place cleaned pikopiko into salted boiling water for 1 hour.
Remove pikopiko and roughly cut into small pieces.
Place toasted sunflower seeds, oil and garlic into blender and blend for
1 minute.
Add chopped pikopiko and blend again for 30 seconds.
Adjust seasoning accordingly.
Cooking Tip
Do not over blend the pesto keep it chunky for better flavour & appearance.
Serve as a kinaki or condiment with all food.  


Anonymous said...

i looked out the kitchen window and saw the new korus starting to unfurl...mmmm pikopiko salad! thank goodness i decided to read about it on the web first. i learned from your blog that there are only 7 edible varieties and the rest are harmful! thanks! but i would be really thankful if you can tell us which are these 7 edible varieties.

David Wright said...

I am sure you know more than me - and I envy your kitchen view.

The only one I try safely - is the so called Hen and Chicken fern - Asplenium bulbiferum - or Mouku.

Someone like Charles Royal up in Rotorua is worth talking to beyond this - he also does cool traditional food gathering tours.

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