Monday, November 26, 2012

A taste of Pandan

If you're born and raised in the South East Asia countries, you'll be very familiar with the term ‘pandan’.

But if you’re not, you’re obviously missing out here. Hehe, just joking. But in all seriousness, here’s a little "educational post" on pandan. 

Firstly, what is pandan? Pandan, short for pandanus amaryllifolius (also known as screwpine leaves) is a tropical plant widely used in South East Asian cooking as a flavouring or for its medicinal properties.

I’m not exactly sure of pandan’s medicinal uses, but I’m rather familiar with its culinary properties, if I may say so myself.

Pandan releases a very characteristic and fragrant aroma when harvested and crushed or cut.

Some recipes call for the actual pandan leaves, but some just the pandan juice which you can obtain by blending the leaves with water.

But fret not if you can’t get your hands on the actual pandan leaves, you can easily purchase pandan paste (highly recommended to get the Aroma Pasta Koepoe Koepoe brand) or pandan essence from supermarket or Asian grocery stores and they work equally well too. 

In my kitchen (or Mum’s), we like to tie the pandan leaves into knots like the above and add them into the boiling process of Malaysian drinks (ie. barley water) or even into rice!

We also use fresh pandan leaves to wrap meat (ie. chicken/fish) so as to infuse its beautiful, fragrant flavour during the cooking process.

Grilled pandan wrapped chicken is like my all-time favourite! I'm looking at this pandan chicken recipe and thinking "Hmmm... I need to make this soon!"

The vivid green colour from the pandan leaf can also be used as a natural food colouring – you can either crush the leaves or simply purchase pandan paste from Asian grocery stores for use in agar-agar (jelly), Nyonya kuih-muih or cakes.

I personally use pandan a lot in my cooking and baking. And if I have intrigued you already, here are a couple of recipes on my blog which calls for pandan as an ingredient:

I recently also cooked Pandan Nasi Lemak with Pandan Roast Chicken (recipe courtesy of Msihua) which was SO YUMMY you have no idea.

The Brudder and Boyfriend were both very impressed, and so was I.

I was beaming with pride and my tastebuds were going "WAH! WOW! HMMM! YUM!" the whole time. ;)

I did make a couple of minor tweaks here and there, but I kinda followed Msihua's detailed recipe to a tee. I doubt I'll blog about it, but we'll see. I might want to just because I was so happy with the finished product. Yeah, I'm thick skinned like that.

Anyhoos, back to pandan. Yes, apart from its culinary uses, the pleasing aroma of pandan also means that it has been used as an air freshener for small areas as well as an ingredient in Asian potpourri.

And believe it or not, these pandan leaves can also be dried and used to manufacture a range of handicraft goods such as handbags and mats. I know right… How versatile is pandan?

But in my opinion, they’re best for all things food related. Or at least for me, they are. Om nom nom nom! ;)

So tell me, have you tried pandan before? Do you like it? Or maybe I should be asking if you love pandan as much as I do? 

If you have any pandan recipes to share with me, I'm all ears!


Winston said...

I LOVE PANDAN!!! And omygosh I didn't realise you had so many awesome pandan recipes I read through the ones you posted and you make me want to try em all! Haha

The Bakeanista said...

YAY for Pandan lovers! *hi5* go try go try and tell me which one you like best. and if you have any other pandan recipes to share, don't kiam siap please! :P

Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

I use pandan in many many things too. One of the recipes I did recently was an easy TongShui: sweet potato, ginger and pandan + rock sugar = so amazingly yum especially when chilled!

The Bakeanista said...

Cel: Yeah pandan is most of the asian tong shui is yummy! Love your recipe, I might give it a go. It would be awesome, especially with the hot weather here in Melb now. :D

msihua said...

Oh yeah! I'm glad it turned our really well for you too!!!

The Bakeanista said...

Big THANKS to your amazing recipe, Msihua! ;)

lien said...

Fortunately, i'm looking for this flavor ^^. I bought Aroma pasta (panda flavor) but i don't know how to use it. I tend to mix it with cream because i like green color. However, I not sure that whether or not i can use it directly :(. Do I need cook it before mixing it?

The Bakeanista said...

Hi Lien, thanks for your note. Pandan is amazing, and very fragrant. You can use it for cooking and baking as I have mentioned in my blog post. I use Aroma Pandan Paste and no there's no need to cook it. You simply need to add a few drops of it to your cake batter or cooking, depending on what you choose to make. Good luck! :)

Click on 'OLDER POSTS' for more! :)