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Thai Khai Hoh Bai Toey (chicken in Pandan Leaves)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (if not available use cornstarch)
  • 1 fresh pandan leaf, chopped small

Instructions

Mix the sauce ingredients, and cut about half a pound of chicken breast meat into largish bite sized pieces, and marinade in the sauce for about 2-3 hours. The pieces of chicken are then wrapped in pandan leaves: this can be done in several "elegant" ways, but the simplest is to form a square of leaf, put the chicken in the centre, pick up the corners and secure with a wooden toothpick (if you want to be real basic, but highly authentic, use a stapler to secure the ends - but don't forget to warn your guests to remove the staples!) The sauce is a variation on the popular prik dong (pickled chilis): mix two tablespoons of sugar in 5 tablespoons of white vinegar (rice vinegar if you can get it), and in a small saucepan reduce this to about half its volume. Add a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of finely sliced mixed red and green prik ki nu (dynamite or birdseye chilis). Transfer to a suitable serving bowl and allow to cool. The wrapped chicken is steamed (in any available steamer) for about 10 minutes, after which time the leaves should be soft, and then deep fried in hot oil until the chicken is fully cooked (takes a couple of minutes). This is essentially Thai finger food: you can eat it by holding the pandan leaf and taking the piece in your mouth, or use the toothpick to pick it up, or of course use chopsticks or western style table utensils. You can if you prefer keep the steamed parcels in the fridge till you want them and then heat them on the table in a small deep fryer or fondue pot.

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