We’re renting a house here in Kuching, one with a backyard. On first day after we arrived in Kuching, we went over to see the house. What do we find, but a stand of pandan growing over on one side of the yard!
Pandan Growing in our Yard
Pandan is a plant with long, tough green leaves. When cut or crushed, the leaves give off this wonderfully sweet, herbal aroma. Cooking with pandan leaves will infuse the pandan flavor into the food. For instance, toss a few pandan leaves in a pot of rice with some coconut milk, and you have nasi lemak!
When we were living in Hawaii, I had a huge stand of pandan growing in the side yard of my Mom’s house. I had nurtured this stand from a small keiki given to me by my friend’s mom. I was very proud of how large it had gotten. (And very sad when I found out my sister had pulled it all out!)
When we moved to San Jose, we couldn’t grow pandan because it is a tropical plant that can’t take the cool California winters. We had to make do with frozen pandan found in the Asian grocery stores. Most of the recipes we made calling for pandan actually used a bottled pandan extract paste. Fresh pandan was just too hard to come by.
Pandan growing in our yard
One of the first things we made in the new House of Annie was barley tea, boiled with pandan leaves. I was starting to come down with a sore throat, so this barley tea with pandan was perfect. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any gingko nuts or fuchok to make it more fancy.
Boiling Pandan with Barley
No matter. When it was finished, boiled and cooled, I drank nearly the entire pot by myself! It really hit the spot.
Barley Tea with Pandan
We’re so happy to find this pandan stand in our yard. In actual fact, every house here in Kuching has a pandan plant growing. Our stand just happens to be so large because no one’s been living in the house for almost two years. That’s a lot of pandan to cook with!
So, we need your help. Give us recipes that call for pandan! Leave a comment and tell us what you’d do with all this fresh pandan.