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!