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Friday, July 25, 2008

Fern Shoots with Hot and Sour Dressing 酸辣山野菜

I used to think that only south east Asians eat fern shoots…. How shallow was I until I saw in Jusco that the Japanese also eat these. And from either Discovery channel or NGE, I got to know that the Taiwanese also eat these.

So, it’s an Asian wild vege… Wonder if people from other parts of the world eat them as well…

This method is copycat of Taiwan’s Celebrity Chef Huang’s version which I saw on TV, he used black vinegar… and me being no black vinegar fan, except in the case of pig trotters…. replaced it with lime or calamansi juice.

Ever wonder why the Choy Sum on your bowl of wantan noodles looks so green??? Ever wonder why the Kangkung that comes with your Sotong looks so vividly green?? Wantan skins and noodles contain lye water, and the sotong kembang is alkaline.. So, when the water that is used to cook them is being used to cook vege, the vege remains green…
Fern shoots tend to brown (and I mean ‘uglily’ brown) very quickly after being blanched.. maybe water in Malaysia is rather soft and more on the acidic side. To counter this, just add 1 drop of lye water into the boiling water.. or just put in 1 pc of wantan skin… And u’ll be blessed with green ferns…

When I was staying in Pahang during my early teaching stint, me and my housemate will go to the small market daily to buy our ingredients for that night's dinner, and once I bought 4 bunches of fern shoots and my neighbour who happened to be there asked , "Buat apa beli banyak macam tu?" (why are u buying so much?), his eyes looked shocked. LOL, he didn't know he happened to live infront of 2 cows.

Fern Shoots with Hot and Sour Dressing
4 cups of fern shoots (already trimmed)
1 or few drops of lye water or wantan skin
Pot of water

4 large cloves garlic
1 shallot
2 red chillies
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp calamansi or lime or lemon juice
2 tbsp oil

1. Finely chop garlic, shallot and chillies.
2. Boil water and put in lye water (kan sui)
3. Blanch fern shoots for half a minute.
4. Drain well.
5. Heat wok and put in oil.
6. Saute garlic and shallot until almost golden, put in chillies.
7. Put in salt and sauté until golden. Dish up onto a separate bowl.
8. When ready to serve, place fern shoots onto a plate, drizzle lime juice and pour fragrant topping over fern shoots. Toss well.


  1. what is lye water?any more substitution?

  2. Carine,
    Lye water is "gan sui"
    Anything alkaline will do the trick, the "kapur" that Malays use, or even baking soda. But only here. If u want to make "gan sui joong" with lye water, there are no other subtitutions.


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