Pandan or screwpine leaves are widely used in Southeast Asian cooking. It is used in both savoury and sweet dishes to add a very unique fragrance and taste to dishes. It has been likened to vanilla but I think it has a more fresh, leafy scent.
Brining meat before roasting makes it so succulent and infuses it with the flavourings added to the brine. I have chosen pandan to be the dominant flavour in this roast chicken. The pandan is simmered with water to make a flavourful brine. Other spices are added to intensify the flavour of the pandan without masking it.
Although pandan flavour is not intense, it is very apparent and really comes out in anything it is added to. Whilst roasting, the scent took me back to someplace redolent of warm breezes, swaying rice stalks and bright sunshine. I can imagine eating the chicken with rice on banana leaves under a thatched nipa awning.
1 whole chicken
4 pandan leaves, cut into 1" pieces
5 whole cloves
1 onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2" x 2" knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
rind and juice of 1 lime
1/2 c. salt
1/2 c. sugar
Boil the pandan and cloves in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Transfer to a mixing bowl big enough to hold the chicken and leave to cool.
Put the chicken in the brine, then top up with enough water to submerge the chicken. Push some of the pandan, onions and other bits inside the chicken cavity. Cover with a small plate to keep the chicken submerged in the liquid.
Tightly wrap the mixing bowl in cling film. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Lift the chicken from the brine, drain the liquid from inside the cavity and set aside to bring it to room temperature.
Roast in a preheated oven (350º F/180º C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes, turning at half time.
Let rest for a few minutes before chopping into serving pieces.
Serve with ginger and chilli dip.
Ginger and Chilli Dip:
1 tbsp. of fine ginger slivers
1 tbsp. of minced garlic
1/2 red finger chilli, sliced diagonally
1/4 c. light soy sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsps. vinegar
2 tsps. of sesame oil
Mix all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved. Serve with the roast chicken.
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