In my last post, I wrote about my
third time lucky successful attempt at a Thai-inspired soufflé using coconut milk and pandan leaves.
I happened to have a few leaves left over so I made another Thai favourite: Gai Bai Toey, which are marinated chicken pieces wrapped in the leaves and then deep fried for several minutes. I have to say, it was some of the tastiest chicken I have ever eaten. The trick is to marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours.
The leaves are wrapped around the chicken just before frying where they protect the meat from being overcooked and infuse it with the wonderful pandan aroma. The delicately thin leaves are surprisingly hardy and can withstand being tied in a knot and then deep-fried.
Don't be put off by the fact that they're deep-fried: the pandan leaves seem to save the chicken from being oily. The meat is succulent and tender with just the right amount of crispiness on the outside.
Tying the leaves around the chicken can be a bit tricky but because the leaves are so hardy, if you make a mistake, you can try again and again without fear of tearing them. Just make sure that most of the meat is enclosed in a little parcel.
This recipe is an excellent appetizer to serve at parties to wow your guests but they have to be ok with using their fingers a little! They won't be disappointed.
Pandan Chicken Recipe - Gai Bai Toey
5 boneless, skinless, free-range chicken thighs
1/4 cup of roughly chopped cilantro (coriander) stems
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp of white pepper
1/4 tsp of sea salt
2 tbs of oyster sauce
1 tbs of sesame oil
2.5 cups of vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup of vegetable oil for blending
20-25 pandanus leaves, fresh or frozen and thawed
Sweet Thai chili sauce for serving
Special equipment: mortar & pestle or blender, wok or deep-fryer
- Place the cilantro (coriander) stems into the blender with garlic cloves, salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Blend for about 30 seconds and then add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Blend for about a minute or until ingredients are paste-like.
- Cut the chicken into slightly bigger than bite-sized pieces. Make sure they are kind of square-shaped. Add the oyster sauce and paste to the chicken. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
- Once the chicken is ready, take a pandanus leaf and put a piece of chicken in the middle of it.
- Fold the leaf over and then wrap it around the chicken piece to enclose it. Take either end of the leaf and tie a knot, ensuring that the chicken piece is in place. Repeat this process with chicken pieces. Sometimes if the leaves are very long, you can cut them in half so you have more of them.
- Now for the frying. Heat the 2.5 cups of oil in a wok over a medium heat. Test the oil with a piece of leaf - it is ready if it starts to sizzle.
- Gently place several chicken parcels into the oil and fry for about 5-6 minutes. Remove the parcels with tongs and shake off any excess oil. Place the parcels on paper towels to drain.
- Serve with Thai sweet chili sauce.