Make Ahead

Sauteed Fern Shoots (or Asparagus) and Shrimp with Lemon Balm Pesto

May 12, 2011
Author Notes

In Hawaii, edible fern shoots are called pohole or ho`i`o. This week’s CSA treasure was a big bunch of lemon balm. With Didi Emmons’ Vietnamese Pesto (from her cookbook Vegetarian Planet – which I love!) on my mind, I decided to make something using both ingredients and this is what I came up with.
Note: Asparagus would also be lovely in this dish, and linguine or another pasta could stand in for the rice noodle,
if desired. For a vegetarian option, omit the shrimp and add up to a cup more fiddleheads or asparagus. —gingerroot

  • Serves 2 generously, 4 as a light meal or part of a meal
  • For the Lemon Balm Pesto
  • 1 cup fresh lemon balm leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, washed and dried
  • 1 large garlic clove, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced almonds (unsalted)
  • 1 small hot chile, such as Hawaiian chile pepper or Thai bird chile, trimmed, seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free Tamari
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus more to taste, if necessary)
  • For the Pohole, Shrimp and Noodles
  • 6 ounces dried rice noodles (Bahn pho, flat rice noodles)
  • 2 cups cups pohole (fern shoots), rinsed, trimmed, cut into 1-2 inch lengths (or Asparagus)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, deveined peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
In This Recipe
  1. Bring a kettle (or pot) of water to boil.
  2. Place dried noodles in a baking pan. When the water just begins to boil, pour or ladle water over noodles to cover. Let noodles sit for 10 minutes. Check the consistency. I let my noodles sit for 15 minutes and they were just right, with a little bite to them. Thoroughly rinse noodles under cold water to stop them from cooking. Place in a bowl, and coat with a drizzle of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking. Set aside.
  3. Make pesto: Combine lemon balm, mint, garlic, almonds, chile and tamari in a blender. Turn machine on, and drizzle in oil. Scrape sides with spatula, add lemon juice and puree until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. If you are using soy sauce instead of tamari, you might need a little more than one teaspoon. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, heat sesame and canola oils. Add fern shoots and sauté for a minute or two. Add garlic, shrimp, and cook, stirring, until shrimp are opaque in the center, about 3 minutes.
  5. In a large shallow bowl, gently combine noodles, sautéed pohole and shrimp, and lemon balm pesto. Serve and enjoy immediately.

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Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.