Fiddleheads remind me of my family old time favourite food, Gulai Pakis. Gulai is an Indonesian curry base. When I was a kid, I gave these greens special name “sayur belalai gajah”. Sayur means vegetable, belalai means trunk and gajah means elephant. So, literally translated for that is Elephant Trunk Vegetable. What a weird name I gave!

Fiddleheads or what the Indonesian calls for paku or pakis are seasonal and only available for two weeks at North America’s market. I only have them once a year since I moved to Canada. Additionally, it is not all stores sell fiddleheads.

When the first time, I had fiddleheads here, I was quite surprised on how big they are compare to the ones that I used to have in Indonesia.   Then, I posted a picture of fresh fiddleaheads on my facebook one day. Farina whom is originally from Malaysia was telling me “these look like the paku that is only available in East Malaysia (Sabah/Sarawak). In West Malaysia, they’re skinny.”

Gotcha! It was explained my question about the size. I resided in the west part of Indonesia at that time, so that is why I only knew the skinny ones.

Just for the geography’s information, Sabah and Sarawak are two Malaysia’s states and bordered with Indonesia on one of east Indonesian islands, Kalimantan.  In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term “Kalimantan” refers to the whole island of Borneo.

I often received the same question about where I bought my fiddleheads in Winnipeg. My first year of buying them was at Organza and I created them into stir fry fiddleheads with scrambled eggs. The second year was at Crampton’s and made them for my old time  family favourite, gulai pakis (Minang Fiddleheads Curry). This year is third time and I bought them at the Vita Health (the Osborne Village store). So, here is the list of places that I’ve known sell fiddleheads in Winnipeg:

Crampton’s Farm Produce Market – 1765 Waverley Street – Phone: (204) 269-3355

– 91 Albert Street – Phone: (204) 946-5241

Organza Natural and Organic Market – 230 Osborne St. (Confusion Corner) – Phone: (204) 453-6266

Vita Health Fresh Market Osborne Village – 1-166 Osborne Street – Phone: (204) 984-9551

Vita Health


Anyang Pakis/Paku
– North Sumatran Fiddleheads with Spicy Grated Coconut –

Ayang Pakis - North Sumatran Fiddleheads with Spicy Grated Coconut

250 g fiddleheads
1 cup frozen grated coconut
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp dried shrimp (Indonesian: ebi), toasted
5 cayenne pepper, seeded
3 tbsps frozen chopped lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1 kaffir lime (can be substituted for regular lime)
1/2 – 1 tsp coriander
salt and sugar to taste
Note: cayenne pepper can be adjusted to the taste

1. With a mortar and pestle, grind coriander, dried shrimp and cayenne pepper.

2. Combine the ground ingredients with coconut, shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salt. Toast in a medium-hot pan until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.

3. In a salted boiling water, blanch fiddleheads about 2 – 3 minutes, drain and run under cold water to preserve the green colour. Re-drain.

4. In a bowl, combine blanched fiddlheads with the toasted coconut mixture. Place in a serving plate and drizzle kaffir lime over.

Anyang can be made with any vegetables that you like, North Sumatrans also love to add torch ginger flower (also known as bunga kecombrang, kincung, rias, honje or bongkot)


  1. Looks like fiddleheads are really in the season as they are shown in many recipes around. Yours cooking with coconut and lemon grass sounds very flavorful and different.

  2. I first had Indonesian food in the Netherlands, but I always suspected that restaurant Indonesian in Europe caters to Western taste. Your lovely photos confirm that suspicion…

    And I've always wanted to taste fiddleheads. There are ferns growing right now in the countryside here, but I don't think they're edible.

  3. Yes, I wanted to say the same as Taste HongKong. 🙂 looks like fiddleheads are in season ….but I have not tried them before!!! :O

  4. Interesting looking veggie, I don't think I have it before. I like the way you cook it, for M'sian, we will probably just stir-fry it with sambal belacan.

  5. So jealous of all your fiddleheads. I've only had them slightly pickled as part of Japanese mountain veggies in udon. I'd gladly trade you some geoduck for fiddleheads. 😛

  6. Oooh…I love this very much. I wish I can get them here. I remember we had lots behind our house when we were young. It's always so convenient when we ran out of vegetables. Thanks for sharing.

  7. @ tasteHongKong: They were on season for only two weeks

    @ Tammy: you might want to check that out to the laboratory to proof that fiddleheads are edible.

    @ Tigerfish: don't you find them in Singapore?

    @ LCOM: There are several way to cook this. Depend on the region as well.

    @ Pigpigscorner: Tha taste is really closed to asparagus

    @ Wandering Chopsticks: can we trade? 😀

    @ Anncoo: it's really good with sambal serai udang and warmed rice

    @ Noobcook: I'm just wondering about something here. Fiddleaheads are really popular in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Sumatra is really closed to Singapore and Malaysia.


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