All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Warabi bracken

Pteridium aquilinum

A common sansai or mountain vegetable, warabi is a gift of nature that starts to appear here and there in late April in our area. While it is poisonous when eaten raw, the carcinogenic substance (ptaquiloside) is neutralized by parboiling (typically with a small amount of wood ash or baking soda) and soaking in the same water overnight (see warabi prep). Warabi can be preserved with salt, either after quick boiling or raw. When preserved with salt, the poison is neutralized during the preservation process. As with other mountain vegetables, warabi is normally eaten in small amounts, and consumption of cooked warabi should not present a major health problem. However, as an extra precaution, the soft tips containing spores are often removed before preparation.

Warabi has an earthy taste and a succulent, somewhat slimy texture. It is often simmered in broth and made into pickles or salads with soy sauce- or vinegar-based dressing. It is also used as an ingredient for tempura and miso soup or as a topping for soba or udon noodles.

To harvest, simply snap the stem toward the ground. If you need to apply some force, the stem is too tough to eat anyway. Harvest those with closed tips, as stems are more tender.

If warabi top is divided into three, pick the center one (tender), snapping at the dividing point.

Today prep-boiled packs are widely available year round. Avoid packaged warabi with a vivid green color, as it is likely to be artificially colored.

(Fresh) 21 kcal/100 g; 92.7% water, 2.4% protein, 0.1% fat, 4.0% carbohydrate, 0.8% ash
(Boiled) 15 kcal/100 g; 95.2% water, 1.5% protein, 0.1% fat, 3.0% carbohydrate, 0.2% ash

Recipes with warabi

Try warabi in the following recipes

(Last updated: April 27, 2019)


Anonymous said...

I recall eating warabi when my father (nisei who grew up in Seattle) would pick some. How long will warabi keep in the refrigerator before cooking? Thank you.

neco said...

Thank you for the question. I would say a few days. Prep-boil at the earliest time possible, as warabi's harsh taste intensifies relatively fast after harvesting.