Fern Friday Salad

IMG_1683.JPGDon’t be misled. The only reason I named this recipe as such is because where I currently am in Baguio City, Philippines, Fiddlehead ferns are only available in the public market on Fridays.

But this is simply a fresh fiddlehead fern salad, known locally as pako.

This is not the same as just fiddlehead, the curly top of the fern plant which is a delicacy in countries like Canada.

This salad uses more of the leaves rather than the fiddleheads.

I’ve been craving for this salad since I first tasted it at a gourmet restaurant in Manila.  Since then, I promised myself to make it in my kitchen, if I could find a source for the fresh ingredient.

Well, I did find a source.  You can bet I’ll be having this every Friday!


One bunch, Fiddlehead fern leaves

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tsp Olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

A dash of ground black pepper

1 red, salted egg, sliced in half


Separate the fern leaves and fiddleheads from the stem.  Discard the stems. Thoroughly wash the fern leaves.  Blanch and drain.

In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar and black pepper and set aside.

In a serving bowl, combine fern leaves, onion, tomatoes and Olive oil. Toss.

Pour the vinegar dressing over the salad mixture.  Toss one more time.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, top with the salted egg slices.

Mango Chayote Salad

img_9406I love sweet mangoes.  They’re quite abundant year-round in the Philippines, except that I still haven’t mastered the art of knowing whether what I am about to purchase are sweet or more on the sour side.  I am sure it’s a combination of smelling, touching, and luck!

I was given a bunch of ripe mangoes that I thought would pass my standard of sweetness.  Alas, in a scale of one to ten — with ten as the sweetest — they registered at about 4.5.  So what was I to do?

Well, I was planning to prepare my favorite chayote (sayote) leaves salad which I would just blanche then toss with salt and vinegar then garnish with sliced tomatoes and onions.

Then I thought about adding the semi-sour mangoes to the mix, thinking that the dressing for my salad would temper the sour taste of the mangoes.

And so the rest is history.  I now have a slightly different recipe for my chayote salad that would come very handy every time I’d peel a not-so-sweet ripe mango!


One bunch of chayote leaves and tips, separated from the stems, and thoroughly washed

One tbsp, white vinegar (or more if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion, sliced

Two medium tomatoes, sliced or quartered

One large ripe mango, peeled and sliced


In a large salad bowl, add the chayote leaves and pour boiling water over them.  Toss with a tong and make sure the leaves are evenly blanched.  Blanche for 2-3 minutes and drain.  Add the tomatoes and onions.  Mix well.  Add the vinegar, salt and pepper, then toss. Add the mango slices on top of the salad.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve.

Coca Salad


I call it ‘Coca Salad’ for short.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it in a different name.  But yes, it’s simply a salad of coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco (coconut gel) in a creamy dressing. Nicely chilled, it’s quite refreshing especially in the hot summer months.

Preparation can either be tedious or quick, depending on how and where you source your ingredients.  You can buy your young coconut already grated by the vendor or you can do it yourself, along with the cantaloupe which you will also need to grate.  The dressing involves a quick simmer of condensed milk and cream.

If you can’t find nata de coco, you can easily substitute it with any flavor of gelatin.

You can also decide to be more fancy by adding pinipig crunch (pounded rice flakes) and even a scoop of your favorite ice cream!


¾ cup condensed milk
¾ cup all-purpose cream
1 tsp cornstarch
1 large ripe cantaloupe, grated
1 fresh coconut, grated, with coconut water reserved
1 cup nata de coco, drained


Combine grated coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco in a bowl and set aside.

In a small pan, combine condensed milk and all-purpose cream. Heat over low temperature and simmer for a few minutes, constantly stirring. Dissolve cornstarch in the juice of the coconut and add to the cream mixture. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour cooled dressing over the coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco. Toss well and place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours and until ready to serve.


Potato Red Beet Salad


Actually, it’s not just potatoes and red beets that are in this salad.  There’s carrots and green beans, and some chicken. This recipe makes for a great dish for any season, but especially for the holidays and special occasions.

My mom used to make a similar salad with just the beets and chicken, but my sister opened my eyes  — and palate — to this new delicious combination.

Make it on a weekend, and enjoy it all weeklong!


1/2 cup chicken breast, boiled and shredded

1 medium red beet, boiled, peeled and cut into tiny squares

2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into tiny squares

6 pcs (French) green beans, boiled (preferrably blanched) and thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, boiled, peeled and cut into tiny squares

1 tbsp pickle relish, drained

2 tbsps pineapple tidbits, halved

1 tbsp green onions, chopped

1 slice of cheddar cheese, cut into tidbits

3/4 cup mayonnaise (or more according to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste



In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, vegetables, pickle relish, cheese and pineapple. Add mayonnaise and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.   Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Serve when nicely chilled.

Quinoa Hijiki Salad

IMG_7166.JPGIn my most recent visit to Hawaii, I became addicted to Quinoa Hijiki salad which I encountered in the refrigerated section of the local ABC Stores in Waikiki.  I promised myself that I would make them at home when I get back to the Philippines.

I was afraid I would not be able to find Hijiki which is a Japanese dried sea vegetable.  But to my delight, there was a Japanese food store which had the rare item, just a few blocks from where I am staying in Metro Manila.

Quinoa is also not that readily available in most supermarkets.  Luckily, I brought home a few packages from Hawaii.

Then, I had problems finding edamame. But again, they had them at the Japanese store.

So, with all the needed ingredients complete, I ventured with my home-made version of Quinoa Hijiki Salad!


2 cups quinoa, cooked according to the package instructions

3/4 cup cooked edamame beans

1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced into very tiny cubes, blanched

1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced into very tiny cubes, blanched

1/2 cup sweet corn

1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, with juice

1/2 small onion, minced

2 tbsps white vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup dried Hijiki (or more if you like)

1 tbsp sugar


Soak dried Hijiki in water for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a salad bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, edamame, red and green bell peppers, sweet corn, pineapple tidbits with juice, Hijiki, onion. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Add sugar and mix well.

Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving.

(Note:  if you prefer, the salad can also be served warm)


Simply, Buko Salad

imageIn hot and humid weather like what I’m currently experiencing in Manila, nothing could be more refreshing than having a chilled fruit salad. I am not necessarily a fan of those fancy fruit salads that contain all the fruits you can ever imagine — from A to Z.

The best fruit salads are those that are simple and include only a few complementary ingredients.

One of those  is a simple buko (coconut) salad.  Again, one can include as many ingredients but for me, I choose to limit it to just a few.

Aside from shredded fresh coconut meat, I just included — for this recipe — shredded cantelope and pineapple chunks. Okay, I did include some cheese bits, but that’s it.

The dressing is a simple mixture of mayonnaise and milk, adjusted to your desired taste.

When consumed chilled, this salad can most certainly chop off a few degrees from the outside hot temperature.


Meat from one small to medium fresh coconut, shredded

1/2 canteloupe, shredded

3/4 cup pineapple chunks

1/2 cup cheese, sliced into tiny squares

3 tbsps mayonnaise

1/3 cup milk

1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)


In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Toss well.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.



Blue (berry) Salad

imageBlueberries.  You know they’re good for you. But other than cakes and pancakes, how else can you enjoy this anti-oxidant-rich fruit? How about in a fresh salad? That’s right, as an appetizer, snack or breakfast accompaniment, this blueberry salad will definitely tease your palate. And did I already say ‘healthy?’ Serve them with nutty, crispy crackers.


1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and drained

1 cup yellow corn kernels

1/4 cup red onions, diced

1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

1 small jalapeno, chopped

3 pcs turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/3 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled

Juice from one medium lemon


In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.