Steamed Pandan Chicken

In this recipe the chicken is first marinated in coconut and Thai spices, it is then wrapped in pandan leaves and steamed. The result is aromatic and tender morsels of chicken. Pandan leaves impart an aromatic flavour similar to vanilla, they can be purchased fresh or frozen from East Asian Grocers. This dish also barbecues wonderfully when the weathers right.

Prep: 20 minutes plus 5-8 hours marinating
Cook: 20 minutes


Chicken Breast

  • 4-6 skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces around 4x4cm


  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 4cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 large chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp soft or grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

To Cook

  • 12-16 pandan leaves, rinsed and cut into 8cm long pieces
  • toothpicks

To Serve

  • Boiled jasmine rice or saffron aromatic rice (see recipe below)


  1. To Marinate: Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Toss the chicken in the marinade, cover the bowl with cling film and place into the fridge to marinate for 5-8 hours.
  2. Pandan Leaves: Wrap the chicken pieces in the pandan leaves by taking one piece and wrapping them one way and then wrap them in the opposite way with a second piece. Secure the pandan leaves with toothpicks (if you are going to barbecue the chicken soak the toothpicks in water first.
  3. To Cook: Bring some water to the boil in the base of a large steamer or wok or saucepan. Place the pandan chicken in the top half of a steamer or in a bamboo steaming basket on a rack in a wok or on top of a saucepan. Cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes until it is firm and cooked through. Remove the pandan chicken from the steamer and serve immediately or store them in a low oven until ready to serve.
  4. To Serve: Serve the pandan chicken with steamed or aromatic saffron rice (see below) and Thai sweet chilli sauce (optional).
Aromatic Saffron Rice:
  • Soak jasmine rice in water for an hour, then rinse it well or rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Cook the rice with 1-2 tsp cumin seeds, a generous pinch of saffron and 3 cardamom pods. Cook the rice in boiling water until it is just tender. Remove the cardamom pods and serve.