The Great Pohole Challenge

Five award-winning chefs share recipes—and oh, how far the humble fern can go!

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Pickled Pohole Salsa Verde

Humble Market Kitchin

Matt Dela CruzA long line of guests waited in the afternoon sun at the 2019 Maui Ag Fest Grand Taste event. What were they waiting for? Kiawe tostadas filled with roasted ‘ulu carnitas, and cauliflower chorizo topped with pohole-tomatillo salsa created by Matt Dela Cruz, executive chef of Humble Market Kitchin in Wailea, celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s latest venue. “We don’t even have a south-of-the-border dish [at the restaurant],” Matt laughs, “but I took this as a challenge. It was fun to create.”

Matt’s history with Yamaguchi goes back fourteen years, when he served as executive chef at Roy’s restaurant in Po‘ipū, Kaua‘i. His history with pohole goes back even farther. “I grew up on Kaua‘i, and we ate pohole all the time . . . it grows in our backyard,” he says. “I love bringing it to the forefront in dining.” Salsa lovers everywhere, fry up some fresh tortilla chips and dip into Chef Matt’s piquant green salsa. Delicioso!

Pickled Pohole Fern Salsa Verde

Servings: Enough for a party!
Prep time: 45 minutes

  • 2 lbs. fresh pohole fern
  • 4 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. kosher salt
  • 4 fresh tomatillo, peeled and charred
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, roasted
  • 1 charred jalapeño, seeded
  • 2 Maui onions, peeled and charred
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt and mix thoroughly. Cut pohole into ½-inch pieces and immerse in this pickling liquid. Using a Vitamix or blender, blend onion, jalapeño, tomatillo, garlic cloves, cilantro and lime juice. Pour contents into a serving bowl. Drain the pohole well and mince. Gently fold into the tomatillo mixture. Season to taste.

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