Never has it crossed my mind that the leaves ( fronds ) of the Bird's Nest Ferns ( Asplenium nidus ) that I used to admire a lot for their beauty are not only edible but very tasty, or so I thought. It was only recently that I came to know about it when I traveled to Taiwan with my sisters. In Taiwan, young and tender fronds of the ferns are found sold in small bundles as a type of mountain vegetables in the wet markets. These vegetables ( called San-shu in Taiwan ) are harvested from both, wild and cultivated plants. I never had a taste of these vegetables while I was there.
When I got back to Malaysia, I began to hunt for them from wild growing trees nearby my house that have got no owners. Finally, I found one that grew on the branch of a tree that I could reach. I used a knife to cut a few still curled fronds ( fiddleheads ). I put them inside a plastic bag and brought them home to cook. When I left, the plant seemed to have remained 'untouched' as the older fronds which would be too fibrous and hard to eat, were spared.
Here is how I prepared and cooked Bird's Nest Fern vegetables :
I washed the fronds gently with a toothbrush under running water and cut them into small, bite pieces. The whole of the curled fronds which I had harvested ( like the ones in the picture below ) were used.
[ Note : You may also use more developed but still young, slightly curled, light green, tender fronds.]
After that, I washed and cut a few slices of ginger to cook with them.
Then I took out a small pan and put all the cut pieces of the fronds and sliced ginger into it. I poured a little water, added a small spoon of oil ( grape seed oil ) and some salt ( rock salt ) into it. Soon after that, I placed it on the stove and cooked them under small fire until set. Then, I turned off the fire and served them on a small, white porcelain bowl to eat with my rice and other vegetables.
Note : They are crispy and tasted a little odd but great, lovely and yummy to me. I swear I would cook these vegetables once every week unless I could not get them. I have yet to know its health benefits but it just does not matter.