Nothing says old recipe like a tattered piece of paper with faded writing. I can’t remember from where I copied this recipe but what I remember was that my first taste of it was at someone’s house. It was a time when pandan chicken had not become a common restaurant dish and you could only eat it if you were invited to dine at a Peranakan household.
This dish has evolved so much that not many people remember how it used to taste like. Therefore, I’m sharing this truly retro recipe not only for posterity, but also for everyone to get a taste of the traditional pandan chicken. This recipe does not have lemongrass, turmeric or chillies, which modern versions tend to include in varying amounts.
But what it does contain is coconut milk, which tenderises and plumps up the chicken meat as it marinates in all the spices. It is important to marinate the chicken in the refrigerator because coconut milk can turn sour at room temperature. Also prominent in the marinade is the presence of whole sprig of cilantro or coriander, and coriander powder, which is ground coriander seeds.
Of course, the star of the dish is pandan, which when fried with the chicken infuses it with fragrance and flavour that is endemic to this region. I find that the shorter species of pandan gives a better flavour, and its narrower leaves do not enclose the chicken too much so the exposed areas can become crispy.
It best to serve immediately, either on its own or with a sweet Thai sauce. It is usually eaten as an appetiser or even part of the main meal.
- 2 chicken quarters
- 20 pieces pandan leaves
- 500ml cooking oil
- 2 inches galangal
- 2 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbs black pepper
- 1 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Cut each chicken quarter into 10 bite-size pieces.
- Blend galangal and whole sprigs of cilantro including their roots.
- Season chicken pieces with galangal, cilantro, coriander, sugar, salt, pepper, fish sauce, and coconut milk for at least 30 minutes.
- When the coconut milk has been absorbed into the chicken, begin wrapping chicken in pandan leaves. Wrap each piece of chicken in a pandan leaf in a triangular shape, securing with toothpicks if necessary.
- Heat oil to deep fry pandan packets of chicken in batches, about 5 minutes on each side. If any packet unravels when it enters the oil, remove immediately and rewrap them in the pandan.
- Chicken is done when the oil stops sizzling and exposed corners become crispy. Remove from frying pan and drain off excess oil.
- Serve with Thai sweet chilli sauce, or enjoy on its own.