Shoots! 10+ Hōʻiʻo Fern Shoot Recipes & Ideas

You know them, you love them – the fern of many names, and our CSA treasure of the week!  If you’re lucky enough to pick up one of our CSA bags from Waipā next Monday, you’ll likely see beautiful fern shoots also known as Hōʻiʻo. This may look familiar to other varieties you have seen like warabi (Japan), pohole (Maui), pako (Philippines), and kasabe (Korea), or fiddlehead ferns (U.S).

A single shoot already blanched 
and ready to be added to a salad.

Hōʻiʻo is the Hawaiian variety of young ferns that are found abundantly in our forests. The ferns produce large fronds that can range from three to six feet long! Vibrant green fern shoots unfurl from the coiled fernhead and are harvested from the interior when they are between 6 and 9 inches long. This edible fern shoot has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and is more tender than other varieties. Its taste/texture can be compared to both okra and asparagus.

More greens for you and your keiki! Packed with nutrients, this fern consists of mostly water and is a good source of iron, fiber, and also contains calcium and magnesium. And like other greens, fern shoots are loaded with many vitamins like A & C as well as the fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Add more Hōʻiʻo into your diet with some of these fern shoot recipes:

  • Salads. These fern shoot recipes are a quick and easy way to prepare a refreshing Fern Salad for any occasion.  Enjoy Hōʻiʻo with salty entrees like kalua pork, shrimp or salmon, laulau, and more.  Or this one, Molokaʻi Style which includes tako! Got kalo in your CSA bag or backyard? Use this recipe Pahole Salad with Taro to enjoy two of your CSA items together!

    Wondering how to prepare those fern shoots? Blanching is the most common method for preparing the fern shoots. Though, they can be roasted, pickled, steamed or sauteed, be sure to avoid overcooking as fern fronds can have a slimy texture.  Use baking soda for this method of How to Get Rid of that Astringent Taste and avoid that sticky/slimy texture! 
  • Medicine. More than just recipes here, learn about the deeper meaning of ferns.  Hōʻiʻo is also used in Lāʻau lapaʻau or medicines by some practitioners (featured tea recipe). And a Moʻolelo or story to read while preparing your Hōʻiʻo salad written by Kīhei de Silva. 

Remember to wash and prepare shoots thoroughly by using this resource from Hawaiʻi Food Map.

Whatʻs your favorite dish to incorporate Hōʻiʻo shoots? Share with us!