Thailand is a beautiful country. A country with vibrance, colourful activities, respectful people, cheap shopping and best of all, excellent excellent food! Much of Thai culture centres around food. Just walking down the street, any street, you can only be struck by the many food stalls and be truly amazed by the variety of food they offer. We used to travel to Bangkok every year because it was affordable for us and our family loves the food here. In fact, my dad knows every single Thai dishes in its native language!
In fact, here are a few general phrases that will come in handy like Sawatdee (means polite greeting like hello, good morning etc), Khap or Ka (is a polite syllable when greeted by a man or woman), Aroy (delicious food), Phet Mak (really spicy), Mai Phet (not spicy).
Since moving to Melbourne, my yearly visits to Thailand has been on stand still. And I’m truly missing all the wonderful dishes like their famous Tom yam, Pandan chicken, Mango with sticky rice, to name a few. Therefore, I’m now trying to recreate some of my favourite Thai dishes through recipes that resembles closely to the flavour that I remember like the Prawn vermicelli and this Pandan chicken.
Now that spring and summer’s fast approaching, it’s time to get the party started. The marinated chicken meat that’s wrapped in pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) are packed with punchy flavours and aroma. I love the way Thai people use various herbs, spices and sauces to enhance the flavour of the dish, making them uniquely delicious. Pandan leaves is a type of plant that grows in South East Asia and they are normally used for flavouring and colouring.
This dish makes really good party finger-foods or part of a shared meal in a potluck gathering. Go ahead, try it. Oh, and don’t be discouraged by the wrapping – because I have laid out a step-by-step instructions on how to wrap the chicken.
Thai Pandan Chicken (adapted from Billy Law’s Have You Eaten?)
Makes 20 pieces
500g chicken thigh fillets, boneless and skinless, cut into 5x3cm pieces
20-25 pcs pandan leaves, washed and wiped dry
20-25 pcs bamboo skewers or toothpicks (optional)
Sweet Chilli sauce, to serve
(Marinade for chicken)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp coconut cream
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt and ground white pepper
1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and gently rub the marinade into the chicken until they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, if using the bamboo skewers, soak them in water for about 1 hour. This will prevent the skewers from burning during deep fry.
3. Remove the chicken from the fridge 15mins before cooking. Trim the lower part of the pandan leaves (the white and hard parts of the leaf) and set aside.
4. To wrap the chicken, follow the step-by-step picture instructions below:
Step 1. Fold one end of the leaf back to form a small cone cup
Step 2. Then with a chopstick, put about 1-2 pcs of chicken into the cone cup
Step 3-6. Bring the longer part of the leaf down to the front and back so that it wraps the chicken securely in the cone cup
Step 7-8. Take the same part of the leaf and slowly insert into the wrap from the bottom and out through the top
Step 9. Gently pull the leaf through and cut the excess part, leaving about 2 inches length. To make it more secure, insert the skewer through the centre. Repeat the process until all the chicken has been used up.
5. Heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, fry the pandan chicken in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook for 4-5 mins or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towel.
6. Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.
Enjoy and remember to say ‘aroy’ if you love this dish!