My husband and I visited Thailand in November of 2018. The decision to travel half way around the globe was an easy one for me. We eat Thai food multiple times a week and from our frequent visits to Surin of Thailand restaurant we made a dear friend who would often tell us about her country. So yeah, a love for food and personal recommendation is all I need to sell me on an idea, HA!
To keep this story short, the first activity Mike and I had planned was a cooking class at the Baipai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok. In that class we learned about native herbs, fruits and many cooking techniques. The Pandan Leaf Chicken is a common Thai appetizer but one I had never heard of before. Let’s just say learning this recipe put huge smile on my face, it was the perfect dish to kick off our culinary adventure. (Note - The recipe listed below is from the Baipai cooking school, they deserve all the credit.)
I know this one looks really unique and requires a special trip to the Asian market, but I promise you, this recipe will not disappoint. The flavors are out of this world. The aroma from the pandan leaf is infused into the chicken along with the marinade and it creates this perfect umami of flavors in your mouth! Be brave and give it a try, you really will be glad you did!
Ingredients - yields about 10-15 bite size pieces
2 boneless chicken thighs cut into 1” bite size pieces
10 Pandan leaves - if frozen, place in refrigerator over night the day before use
1 Garlic Clove
10 Black Peppercorns
1 lemongrass cut into pieces
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoon Oyster Sauce
2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon White Sesame Seeds
1 coriander root (if you can’t find it, it’s fine to leave it out)
3 or 4 Cups vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
1 or 2 tablespoons Sweet Soy Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Toasted White Sesame Seeds
1. First make the herb mixture for marinade. Using a mortar and pestle, pound together garlic, coriander root, black peppercorns and lemongrass.
2. In a small bowl combine the herb mixture, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and white sesame seeds. Stir well then add in the bite size pieces of chicken thigh. Mix well to completely coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate. It is recommended to marinate 1 hour. *Note - I’ve made this dish w/o marinating for an hour and it was still delicious.
3. Lay out the pandan leaves, so they are separated and not sticking together. If the leaves are wet, use a paper towel and rub gently or dab along the leaves to dry any moisture. After the chicken has marinated remove from the refrigerator. Take 1 leaf and around the chicken. See step by step photo’s below. Tug on the leaf to make sure it’s tight around the chicken. Set aside and finish wrapping all the chicken pieces.
4. Pour oil into a deep pot (I use my dutch oven). Turn to medium heat, the oil should be around 350F.
Working in batches of 4 or 5, hold the wrapped chicken by the long end of the leaf, gently place in the hot oil. Watch out for splatters from the oil. Using a long spoon move the chicken around a little so all sides are in the oil and deep fry until chicken is cooked and brown in color, about 3-4 min.
5. Once cooked through, using a slotted spoon remove chicken from oil and drain well on a plate lined with a paper towel.
6. Use a pair of scissors and snip off the long end of the leaf.
7. Pour sweet soy sauce in a small bowl and top with sesame seeds.
8. Plate the chicken and serve with dipping sauce. Remove leaf before eating.
Step by Step Instructions: How to Wrap Pandan Leaf Chicken
find the center and fold pandan leaf in half. you now have a RIGHT and LEFT side to work with.
take the RIGHT side and place over, or on top of, the left side. it should look like an upside down ribbon.
keep the RIGHT side in your hand and bring it around the back to the front.
still keeping with the RIGHT side, now bring it around and tuck into the hole, tug slightly.
at the base of the LEFT side notice the pocket that has formed - place marinated chicken in that pocket
*for a visual, see the next picture from my class in Thailand
chicken nestled in the ‘pocket’
with the chicken in the pocket, take the original LEFT side up and over the chicken…
…and tuck into the same slot as the RIGHT side.
close up of tucking LEFT side into the same slot as the right.
work the LEFT side all the way thru until you have a nice snug package.
note - both sides (right and left) should both end facing the same direction making a tail (of sorts), use the tail to hold the leaf when you place in the hot oil to deep fry.