Asian Recipes/ Recipes/ Side Dish/ Snack

Thai Pandan Chicken

07/08/2020

Pandan chicken is the number one entree we order at Thai restaurants. It’s easier than you might think to make these juicy chicken bites at home. Wrapped in pandan leaves and deep fried, they’re crispy, golden and delicious!

Fried pandan chicken pieces on a plate with dipping sauce.

Why We Love This

These make for the perfect appetiser with friends. The marinade is bursting with so much flavour, you can eat them on their own or dish it up with your own homemade sweet soy dipping sauce or sweet chilli sauce.

The pandan leaves don’t just infuse the chicken with flavour, it also makes them look super fancy in their little parcels!

Pandan chicken pieces on a white plate with sweet soy dipping sauce.

What is Pandan Chicken? 

Referred to as Gai Haw Bai Toey in Thai or Ayam Pandan in Malaysia, both mean chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. While the leaves aren’t eaten, they do add flavour to the meat – especially when fried. The leaves also help to hold in the chicken juices and keep the meat nice and tender.

You’ll find pandan chicken as an entree at Thai restaurants usually alongside spring rolls or as street food in Thailand either by itself, with dipping sauces or with rice.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for the chicken:

We have some amazing South East Asian flavours in this dish. Full of your favourites such as ginger, garlic and soy sauce. There’s also few ingredients here you may have to track down or substitute.

Ingredients laid out for making Thai pandan chicken.

Ingredients for the dipping sauce:

Ingredients for pandan chicken dipping sauce.

Pandan Leaves: Sometimes called the ‘Vanilla of the East’, pandan is a staple addition to both savoury and sweet cooking in many Asian dishes. If you can find pandan leaves fresh, get them! The scent and aroma they infuse is amazing. We can’t find them in our area, so we buy them frozen from our local Asian supermarket. If you can’t track them down, you can use banana leaf to wrap the chicken and place in 1/2 tsp of pandan flavouring to the chicken marinade instead.

Coriander Root: Usually found on bunches of fresh coriander at Asian supermarkets, it adds an earthier coriander flavour to the dish. You can also a mix of coriander stems and leaves as a substitute, or 1/2 tbsp of coriander powder.

Fish Sauce: Fish sauce is a powerful, intensely flavoured ingredient ready to add a savoury flavour boost to your cooking. Substitute with soy sauce if you can’t get hold of it.

How to make and wrap pandan chicken:

  1. Marinate the chicken in a large bowl and pop in the fridge for 2 hours.
  2. Wrap the chicken by taking a pandan leaf with the base toward your left hand side. Cross them over in the middle to make a pouch for the chicken. The base of the leaf should now be on top, and pointing to the right.
  3. Fold the left leaf down and over the front.
  1. Then flip it over to the backside. Take the tip of the leaf and weave it through the back of the pandan chicken pocket.
  2. Pull on both the base and top leaf strands to tighten the chicken pocket. Cut off any excess on the leaves, leaving a couple of inches. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.
  3. Deep fry the chicken for around 4-6 minutes. Rotate occasionally, watching for the chicken to turn a nice golden brown.
  4. In a small saucepan, pop in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and water. Stir over a low to medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour sauce into a small serving dish and garnish with white sesame seeds.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Make sure the oil is nice an hot before popping in the chicken. Use a wooden skewer or chopstick – if it bubbles around the base, it’s ready!
  • Try not to crowd the pan when frying. Cook the chicken in batches if you have to. This keeps the heat more even as it cooks the chicken.
  • If you’re squeezed for time, try and marinate the chicken the day before for extra flavour, or if you’re really strapped, pop it in the fridge for only 30 minutes instead.
  • When using frozen leaves, thaw them at room temperature then rinse them under cold water and dry well before using.
  • If you don’t like the mess of deep frying inside – try cooking it on a wok outside on a camp stove.

FAQs

Do you eat the leaves after cooking pandan chicken?

The leaves are only for infusing the flavour of pandan into the chicken. Once it’s cooked, you can remove the pandan leaves and pop them in the bin.

Can I cook this in the oven instead?

Of course! If you want to avoid deep frying, lay the pandan chicken pieces out on a pan and cook for around 45 minutes at 180°C / 360°F or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through the middle.

What is usually served alongside pandan chicken?

Aside from the dipping sauce, it’s usually by itself as an entree or appetiser. If you’re wanting to pair it with some Thai main meals, you could serve it with Yum Nua Spicy Thai Beef Salad or our favourite – Choo Chee Chicken Curry.

Variations & Substitutes

  • You can wrap the pandan a simpler way, by just folding it around the chicken piece a couple of times and popping a tooth pick straight through the middle to hold it all together.
  • Substitute the chicken with pork, or do a combination of both if you want to impress when entertaining.
  • You can swap the dipping sauce for sweet chilli sauce for a quick and easy alternative.
Close up of fried chicken pieces in pandan leaves.

Want more ideas for chicken dinners? These are some of our favourites:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below!

Wrapped chicken in pandan leaves with dipping sauce.

Thai Pandan Chicken

Pandan chicken is the number one entree we order at Thai restaurants. It's easier than you might think to make these juicy chicken bites at home. Wrapped in pandan leaves and deep fried, they're crispy, golden and delicious!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Appetiser, Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 15 pieces
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Equipment

Ingredients

Pandan Chicken

  • 500 g chicken thighs quartered
  • 2 tbsp coriander root fresh, chopped finely (or mix of stems and leaves or ½ tbsp coriander powder)
  • 1 shallot chopped or minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic chopped or minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger chopped or minced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • pinch salt
  • pinch sugar
  • Pandan leaves for wrapping
  • Vegetable oil for cooking

Dipping Sauce for Pandan Chicken

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce light
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce thick soy sauce or kecap manis
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp white sesame seeds

Instructions

For the marinade

  • In a large bowl, mix together the chicken pieces with the coriander root, shallot, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, corn flour, sesame oil, white pepper powder, sugar and salt. Once combined, pop in the fridge to marinate for two hours.

Wrapping the pandan chicken

  • Take a pandan leaf with the base toward your left hand side. Cross them over in the middle to make a pouch for the chicken. The base of the leaf should now be on top, and pointing to the right.
  • Fold the left leaf down and over the front. Then flip it over to the backside. Take the tip of the leaf and weave it through the back of the pandan chicken pocket. Pull on both the base and top leaf strands to tighten the chicken pocket.
  • Cut off any excess on the leaves, leaving a couple of inches. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

Cooking the pandan chicken

  • In a wok or deep fryer, heat up enough vegetable oil to fry the chicken (around 3 cups). Once hot, fry the chicken for around 4-6 minutes. Rotate occasionally, watching for the chicken to turn a nice golden brown.
  • Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate layered with paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

For the sweet soy dipping sauce

  • In a small saucepan, pop in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and water. Stir over a low to medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour sauce into a small serving dish and garnish with white sesame seeds.

Video

Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • Pandan Leaves: Frozen or fresh is fine. If you can’t track them down, you can use banana leaf to wrap the chicken and place in 1/2 tsp of pandan flavouring to the chicken marinade instead. You can wrap the pandan a simpler way, by just folding it around the chicken piece a couple of times and popping a tooth pick straight through the middle to hold it all together. Don’t eat the pandan leaves, discard these once you’ve eaten the chicken. When using frozen leaves, thaw them at room temperature then rinse them under cold water and dry well before using.
  • Coriander Root: You can also a mix of coriander stems and leaves as a substitute, or 1/2 tbsp of coriander powder.
  • Fish Sauce: Substitute with soy sauce if you can’t get hold of it.
  • Use your oven instead: If you want to avoid deep frying, lay the pandan chicken pieces out on a pan and cook for around 45 minutes at 180°C / 360°F or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through the middle.
  • Make sure the oil is nice an hot before popping in the chicken. Use a wooden skewer or chopstick – if it bubbles around the base, it’s ready!
  • Try not to crowd the pan when frying. Cook the chicken in batches if you have to. This keeps the heat more even as it cooks the chicken.
  • If you’re squeezed for time, try and marinate the chicken the day before for extra flavour, or if you’re really strapped, pop it in the fridge for only 30 minutes instead.
  • You can swap the chicken with pork.
  • You can swap the dipping sauce for sweet chilli sauce for a quick and easy alternative.

Nutrition

Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 476mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 26IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Summer Yule
    21/08/2020 at 9:42 am

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Thank you for the dinner inspiration. This was a great use for the pandan leaves I had in the freezer.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/08/2020 at 10:35 am

      Awesome Summer, so glad you enjoyed it. Such a great way to use up pandan leave without having to blend them up. 🙂

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