Spiced chicken and pandan leaves (Gai how bi towey)

Preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Makes about 20

From The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure


  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 coriander roots, washed and finely chopped
  • 15g/½oz galangal, coarsely grated
  • 1 tbsp crushed palm sugar (if none available, use brown sugar)
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • a good pinch white pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 500g/1lb 2oz 2 large or 3 medium skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthways and into bite-sized pieces
  • 20 pandan leaves, depending on how many chunks of chicken you get
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 limes cut into wedges, to serve

For the sauce

  • 40g/1½oz finely grated ginger (squeeze the juice out of it using a piece of muslin then discard the ginger pulp)
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp rice vinegar


  1. In a pestle and mortar (or a small blender), pound together the garlic, coriander root and the galangal. Add the palm sugar and make a smooth paste.

  2. Put the mixture into a large bowl. Add the lime juice and a good pinch of white pepper. Add the sesame oil, Thai fish sauce and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly with the chicken in a shallow dish, cover with cling film and marinade in the fridge for half an hour.

  3. For the sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a suitable serving bowl and leave to one side.

  4. Take a large pan of boiling water and gently ease in the pandan leaves, blanching for 30 seconds and then remove and dry with some kitchen paper.

  5. Take a pandan leaf and wrap it around a piece of the chicken, trim the thick stalk off and secure with a cocktail stick. Repeat to use up all the chicken and leaves.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan, wok or a deep-fat fryer to 180C/350F (CAUTION: hot oil is dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

  7. Fry for eight minutes, or until the pandan is golden-brown and the chicken cooked through. You will need to cook the parcels in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

  8. Serve with the sauce and wedges of lime.

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