Thai Pandan Chicken (Gai Hor Bai Toey) is one of the must-order side dishes when we have our ad-hoc craving for Thai cuisine. The succulent, tender, marinated chicken pieces are infused with pandan aroma when served. The flavor is pretty neutral, neither too spicy nor too heavily spiced. It is popular with someone who enjoys Thai food but is unable to withstand the spiciness in most Thai dishes. It goes perfectly well with pineapple fried rice or olive fried rice.
Pandan leaves, the soul to the completion, are easily available in leading supermarkets and wet markets. I usually buy in bulk as its usage is rather versatile. Be it dessert, kueh, or drinks such as barley drink or lemongrass tea, adding pandan leaves simply make a difference.
The following recipe is adapted from various sources including Spice N Pans, Marion Grasby, etc and adjusted to my liking. Instead of the usual deep fry, I air fry the chicken – same aromatic dish but minus the sinfulness and the afterward ‘cleaning process’wink. The spices are not overpowering and most importantly, the kids loved them and always asked for more. The wrapping steps can be a little challenging for any first-timers. Hence, I’ve attached step-by-step guiding instructions which I’ve combined from different sources. You can find videos of wrapping easily on YouTube. Trust me, you will get there with a little practice and trial and error. Have fun!

500g boneless and skinless chicken thigh (approx 4-5 pcs)
Pandan leaves

6 cloves of garlic (grated and obtain only its juice)*
2 cm of ginger (grated and obtain only its juice)*
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3 pieces of bruised coriander roots (or 1 tsp ground coriander)
1 tbsp cornflour
dash of pepper

*Using just the juice of garlic and ginger, intensifies the marinate. In addition, it is less likely to have charred bits of the ginger/garlic pulp during the cooking process.

This is my trusted ceramic grater which serves its purpose well.
Prepare the pandan leaves by individualizing each leave and wash off the sand. Pat dry.
Cut the chicken thigh into 4cm chunks and marinate for at least 3 hrs. Usually, I will prepare them in the morning and chilled in the fridge before cooking them for dinner.

1) Hold leaf with its matt side facing you (glossy side facing down) and that the flat side of the pandan leaf is on your left-hand side while the pointed side of the pandan leaf is on your right-hand side.

Press a little along the leaf to flatten it and release its juice.

2) Fold the ends upwards, making sure the flat side which is now on your right-hand side is much shorter than the pointed side which is now t your left-hand side.

Cross the short side over the long side to create a pocket.

3) For butter-fingers like me, I will loop the long end halfway through the pocket to facilitate easy closure later.

*Note: Do not pull the long end through.

4) Tuck a piece of chicken into the pocket.
5) Making sure the back of the pocket is supported, pull the long end (pointed side) of the leaf which is halfway through, downwards and thread it through the loop.
6) Pull the ends gently to ensure that the meat is securely tucked in the pocket.
7) Thread the long end of the leaf back over and pull the leaf through the loop again to secure.
8) Pull the ends gently to secure.
9) The excess length of the leave can be trimmed off as mentioned in several demonstrating videos or authors.

I prefer to thread it at the back looking like this.

Front view
Trim a little off the ends.
All done.
10) Continue to wrap the remaining marinated chicken meat with the pandan leaves.

11) Air fry at 180°c for 15 mins.

Voila! The aroma that fills the kitchen is really irresistible.