Going to Ranch 99 (local Asian market chain grocery store) has become one of my favorite past times as of late. It allows me to feel, if even for some moments in time, like I am back in Asia. Silly, I know. Well, today was one of those days when I made my weekly trip to the Asian market with one thing in mind and on my shopping list – Pandan Leaves.
Pandan leaves go by many different names : screwpine leaves, daun pandan, pandanus and kewra. They are popular in dishes in Southeast Asia (especially Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia). Their intense green color is often used as food coloring in puddings and rice.
In Thailand, I always found the pandan leaf at the wet markets. They were usually with other types of leaves and herbs for sale in bunches.
A popular Thai dish called gai ob bai toey is chicken wrapped in pandan leaves and deep-fried. This dish can be seen sold on the streets of Bangkok and is a delicious snack or as a main dish. Below is my recipe for this delicious food.
What you will need:
About 4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 T coriander seed, ground
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T lemongrass, chopped
1 T grated ginger
2 T oyster sauce
2 T light soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 T brown sugar
1/2 c coconut cream (thick)
Pandan leaves & toothpicks for wrapping
Oil for frying
What you will do:
Add all the ingredients, along with the cut chicken thighs in a bowl and marinate for at least 2 hours but overnight would be better.
Wrap one piece of chicken in pandan leaves and secure with toothpicks (Unfortunately, the pandan leaves I found were cut, had they been long there is a way to secure the parcel without toothpicks. I will post another blog on wrapping if I can find long pandan leaves) and set aside for deep-frying.
Meanwhile, heat oil in wok or pan until about 350 degrees (or test by putting the tip of a pandan leaf and if it rapidly bubbles it is ready).
Once you have secured your parcels, put a few in the oil at a time. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until chicken is golden brown. Drain on some kitchen towel and serve.
The Thai chicken in pandan leaves can be served with a sweet chili dipping sauce or a sauce of:
2 parts dark soy to 1 part vinegar and 1 T of white sesame seeds.
Thai chicken wrapped in pandan leaves is a great snack to serve at a party, not to mention they look quite impressive!
* For a healthier version, you can steam or bake the Thai chicken parcels.
Cheers and happy eating!