The wild ramp, AKA wild leek, botanical name Allium tricoccum, is a flowering perennial plant that grows in clusters. It is a member of the Allium family along with onions and leeks
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Paku Pakis ferns have long petioles, or stems, that are thick and woody at the base and gradually thin at the top by the pinnae, or leaves. The ferns have many small, tightly wound green baby fronds mixed with stems of mature unfurled fronds. Paku Pakis ferns are tender and have a slightly bitter, grassy flavor that sweetens when cooked.
Paku Pakis is available in early spring.
Paku Pakis, botanically classified as Diplazium esculentum, is a wild fern that is one of the most popular vegetable ferns in Asia. Also known as Paku Ikan, Pucuk Paku, Pako, Dhekia, and Phak Khut, Paku Pakis grows wild in Asia and is widely found along roadsides, in backyards, and in wetland regions. Paku Pakis ferns are not commercially grown because of their abundance and availability in the wild and are predominately sold at local farmers markets. Paku Pakis ferns are also found in the United States and tropical Africa, but they have earned the title of an invasive species due to prolific growing habits.
Paku Pakis is a good source of potassium, riboflavin, iron, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Paku Pakis ferns are best suited for cooked applications such as stir-frying, sautéing, blanching, and boiling. They are sautéed and used in stir-fries, curries, soups, and stews. Paku Pakis are also commonly cooked and served with belacan, a popular shrimp paste, and are pickled to preserve for later use. Paku Pakis pair well with lemongrass, ginger, shallots, coconut milk, lime, grated coconut, curry powder, potatoes, and rice. Paku Pakis will keep up to three days when stored sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In Southeast Asia, Paku Pakis is used in many medicinal and cosmetic treatments. The ferns are boiled, and the liquid is used to reduce symptoms of coughs, diarrhea, and as a tonic to replenish nutrients after childbirth. The leaves are also used by being ground into a paste and applied externally to help reduce symptoms of fevers, odors, and rashes. In Indonesia, the roots are even worn in the hair as a decoration and as a treatment to help stimulate hair growth.
Paku Pakis is native to Asia and Oceania and were then spread to select tropical regions in the Americas and Africa. Today, Paku Pakis is available at local farmers markets in China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, the United States, and Africa.