what is it & how do you eat it?
Pohole, the fern shoots of Athyrium spp. answer to many names. On Maui, where they grow large and tender and
are available year round, they are called pohole. They are known as ho’i’o on the Big Island of Hawai`i, pako in
the Philippines and warabi in Japanese.
Their crunchy texture and mild flavor are similar to asparagus or okra—perfect for salad, mixed with tomato, onion and a vinaigrette dressing.
Native to Hawai`i, pohole is fat-free and high in fiber, 98 percent water with high levels of iron, vitamin C and beta carotene. Two ounces of the raw shoots (about a ½ cup) provides a third of the adult daily requirement for vitamin C, 15 percent of the iron (twice as much as spinach) and the same level of vitamin A, small amounts of calcium and vitamin B. Pohole has a six-day refrigerator shelf life.
Hawaiians have been eating this food for hundreds of years, storing the ferns in holes in the ground lined with rocks then lined with ti leaves. Even today ti leaves are used to keep the ferns cool in shipping. Hana Herbs & Flowers is the first farm to receive an export stamp for pohole, under the name Maui Fern Shoots. The company is dedicated to helping all Hawai`i with an agriculture food that is plentiful and can be harvested without disturbing the land—the more you pick it the more you get. Now this ancient plant is being bulldozed under for development. Marketing this food will give it value, helping to preserve this ancient food.
Adapting Hawaiian traditions to the needs of the contemporary chef, Hana Herbs has spent more than 12 years developing an abundant, perennial crop, and now regularly supplies some of Maui’s finest restaurants and hotel
dining rooms. These have included the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons and the Hotel Hana-Maui.
Hana Herbs & Flowers: 808-248-7407; HanaHerbs.com