Pandan chicken is traditionally fried but Alex has done both fried and grilled versions so this recipe is being modified again.
Boneless chicken cutlets are marinated in sauces and spices, wrapped in aromatic pandan leaves and fried until crisp and browned. These pandan chicken nuggets are so flavorful they don’t need a dipping sauce and they are great as finger food or served with rice as a main dish.
I used to broil my pandan chicken. Broiling works well when the chicken cutlets include the skin which provides the necessary fat to make the meat moist and tender. But when using skinless chicken cutlets, frying is the best way to go.
But if you want even more flavor in your pandan chicken, try grilling them over glowing charcoal. Cubes of chicken thigh fillets were wrapped in pandan leaves then threaded with bamboo skewers. My goodness, the smoky flavor really did its work.
For the marinade, Alex used my old recipe. The ingredients list remains unchanged but the cooking instructions have been modified.
A final tip: if using skinless chicken fillets, marinate overnight to allow the meat to soak up the coconut cream. That will help prevent the chicken from drying out during grilling.
For the deep-fried version, here is a guide on how to wrap the chicken fillets with pandan leaves.
For the grilled version, the procedure is simpler—just take a piece of pandan leaf, place the chicken fillet on one end, roll to enclose then skewer.
Thai Pandan Chicken (Gai Ob Bai Toey)
- 1.2 kilos of skinless chicken thigh fillets cut into 2-inch cubes
- pandan leaves equal to the number of cut chicken pieces
- 12 to 15 bamboo skewers
For fried pandan chicken
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil
Marinate the chicken
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is best especially if using skinless chicken fillets).
Cut off the root and light green portions of the pandan leaves. Take the dark green portion and blanch in hot water for 30 seconds to release the aroma and to make them more pliable.
For grilled pandan chicken
Soak the bamboo skewers in water to prevent them from catching fire on the grill.
Take one piece of chicken, wrap with a pandan leaf then thread with a bamboo skewer. Three to four pandan-wrapped chicken per skewer is a good starting point. Use more or less depending on the length of the skewers you're using.
Repeat until all the chicken pieces are wrapped and skewered.
Fire up the charcoal grill.
Grill the skewered pandan chicken about six inches from the heat, three to four minutes per side.
For fried pandan chicken
Wrap each piece of chicken in pandan leaf (see video).
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Ideally, the oil should be at least three inches deep.
Fry the pandan-wrapped chicken in batches over high heat. Three to four minutes should cook the chicken through. But, to be on the safe side, take one piece out of the oil and cut the chicken. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. In not, fry a little longer.
Drain the fried chicken pandan on a rack or strainer to allow excess oil to drip off.
Serve the pandan chicken immediately as an appetizer, snack or main dish.
If serving as a main dish, pandan chicken is especially good with rice. Serve with a vegetables dish on the side. Grilled eggplant and bell pepper salad with sesame-soy dressing is especially good.
Fried or grilled? They’re both so good.