Pandan leaf chicken is one of the best specialty chicken dishes in Thai restaurants. The chicken is moist, tender, infused with a refreshing pandan aroma, and encased in leaf packets.
The Thai people wrap the marinated boneless chicken meat inside a large piece of pandan leaf and deep-fry it. The amazing aroma of the leaves is infused into the chicken meat, giving the ordinary chicken a distinct flavor and unique presentation.
Pandan leaves are also called screwpine leaves. It is long and slim, with the length reaching 50 cm. It is widely available for cooking in all South East Asia countries. The local people use pandan leaves to flavor the rice, make drinks, and prepare desserts.
The unique flavor of pandan leaves
Fresh pandan leaves are not widely available in Western countries. Unfortunately, you need to wrap the chicken in pandan leaf. Therefore it cannot be substituted with pandan extract. If you can get pandan leaves in Asian grocery stores, try this recipe that is so different from any chicken dish. After all, it is a relatively easy recipe to follow. The flavor is neither too spicy nor exotic, which is ideal for someone who wants to enjoy Thai food but is put off by the other hot and spicy Thai foods.
Thai pandan leaf chicken is served with a sweet and salty sesame dipping sauce which complements the subtle flavor of the chicken. The Thai people serve it as the main dish or appetizer ideal for party hors-d’oeuvre.
Deep-fried chicken in the pandan leaf packet
It is challenging wrapping the chicken the first time, but it is a breeze after some practice. There are two ways to encase the chicken. You can fold the leaves to form a pocket to hold the chicken or roll the chicken inside the leaf and secure it with a toothpick. The best way to understand how to do it is by watching the embedded video.
There are many versions of Thai pandan chicken recipes. Some recipes include Thai spices like lemongrass, turmeric, coconut, and shallot. Thai people also add curry powder and dry chili for an extra hot and spicy flavor. My recipe is more of the Malaysian style, which does not use chili.
I have improvised the pandan leaf chicken recipe by adding pandan extract as part of the marinade. The Thai people usually steam the chicken before deep frying. This process helps to keep the chicken moist after frying and infuse the pandan aroma into the chicken. I blend some chopped pandan leaves with a small amount of water to form a concentrated paste to extract the juice. The juice is used as part of the marinade to increase the intensity of the pandan flavor. This improvisation yields pandan chicken that is moist, tender, and packed with pandan flavor.
10 Tips to cook a perfect pandan leaf chicken
- Marinate the chicken pieces with ground coriander, fish sauce, ground white pepper, light soy sauce, oyster, sugar and sesame oil. The marinade provides a slightly spicy and earthy flavor, while the pandan leaves impart a delicate, inviting aroma to the chicken. You can use either boneless chicken breast of thigh meat.
- The pandan leaves also help to keep the chicken moist during deep frying to guarantee each piece is succulent and tender.
- The chicken should be wrapped securely in the pandan leaf, with a little tip peeking through the top.
- Use the broad and long pandan leaves for easy wrapping.
- After wrapping, pull the leave tight so the juice will not leak out and the piece of chicken will remain juicy.
- Do not add too much water to blend the pandan leaves. It should yield a thick extract so that it will not dilute the marinade.
- Use the side of the leaves that is not as shiny as the inner part to wrap the chicken. There are two ways to do this. The first method is to fold the leaf forming a pocket to hold the chicken, and then fasten the pocket by inserting the tip of the leaves through the gap between the leaf and the chicken meat. The second method is to roll each leaf with the chicken inside and fasten it with a toothpick.
- You can use chicken breast or chicken thigh meat for this recipe. I have tried both, and they are equally delectable.
- Since the chicken is already steamed, you need to deep-fry it until it turns golden brown. Prolonged frying will result in tough and dry pandan chicken.
- Fasten the leaf packet tightly by pulling the ends of the pandan leaves, as the chicken will shrink during deep frying.
- Deep fry the encased chicken for 4 minutes with medium heat until the exposed area of the chicken become golden brown.
- After frying, drain on a paper towel to remove the excess oil before serving.
- Serve withe the dipping sauce in the recipe or Thai sweet chili sauce.
The pandan leaf chicken recipe:
Pandan leaf chicken - easy Thai recipe
Pandan chicken is popular among the Asian countries, with a pleasant aroma of pandan (screwpine) leaf imbue into the meat.
- 500 g chicken thigh, , or chicken breast meat
- Pandan leaves
- Vegetable oil , , for deep frying
- 2 tablespoons garlic, , minced
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 6 pandan leaves, about 25g for making pandan extract
For the dipping sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon White sesame
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the chicken
- Cut the chicken into 4cm chunks, skin on.
- Blend the pandan leaves with 3 tablespoons of water. Extract the juice through a sieve.
- Marinate the chicken with the pandan extract and ingredients in B for 2 hours.
- Wrap each piece of chicken with the leaves. (Refer to the video in this post)
- Steam the chicken tor 10 minutes.
- Deep fry the encased chicken for 4 minutes until the exposed area of the chicken become golden brown.
- Transfer the chicken pieces to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
For the sauce:
- Toast the white sesame seeds in a wok or pan without oil until they become light brown. Set them aside.
- Put the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thicken. Remove from heat.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds into the sauce and serve with the pandan chicken.
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Pearl River Bridge Golden Label Superior Light Soy Sauce, Plastic Bottles, 16.9 oz
Red Boat - Fish Sauce, 8.45 Ounce - Chef’s Grade, Gluten Free, Sustainably Sourced & Artisan Processed, 100% Pure, Protein Rich, No Added MSG or Preservatives.
Pearl River Bridge Mushroom Flavored Superior Dark Soy Sauce, Plastic Bottles, 16.9 oz.
Kadoya Pure Sesame Oil, 11 Fluid Ounce
Serving Size:20 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 377mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/1/2019
Sunday 6th of December 2020
Can I use frozen pandan leaves to wrap? I can't find fresh ones where I live. Thank you!
Sunday 6th of December 2020
I never try because it's readily available here. However, I don't see any reason it can not be done.
Monday 24th of August 2020
I just made this today for dinner! The plate was finished so fast! It's soooo good! My dad who is a food critic said it's very delicious, much better than in the restaurant! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Tuesday 25th of August 2020
Thank you so much for trying this recipe, and glad to know that your dad likes it.
Thursday 4th of June 2020
Hello. I just made this wondering dish. I have one question though. When I fry it, the oil kept flying out because of the liquid in the pandan chicken. How to prevent this? Thank you.
Friday 5th of June 2020
Hi Louise, We can't prevent the liquid from coming out from the chicken if it is too wet. If you marinate the chicken for a long time, the flavor will absorb into the chicken, and the excess marinade will become unnecessary. Drain away any excess marinade before wrapping and frying to prevent the oil from splattering. KP Kwan
Wednesday 27th of May 2020
Hi Mr Kwan, I just made it. I didn't steam, but marinate it overnight. Taste delicious and meat is succulent! My family love it.
Note: I use thigh meat
Wednesday 27th of May 2020
Hi Patricia, I prefer thigh meat too, actually. It has more flavor than breast meat. KP Kwan
Monday 10th of February 2020
Made this last week. Super good and considered moderately easy for such a challenging recipe. But make you have enough time for chopping and marinating and wrapping. 2 hours marinating is important.
Tuesday 11th of February 2020
Hi Annette, That is a good point. Marinating the chicken makes all the difference! KP Kwan