Pandan (bai toey) ใบเตย
Bai toey (Pandanus amaryllifolius) is also known in English as pandan or screwpine. It is commonly used in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia to add flavor and fragrance to many desserts, drinks, and even some savory dishes, such as gai ho bai toey, which is chunks of chicken wrapped in bai toey and grilled/fried.
Bai toey has a very distinctive aroma that is floral, but not cloyingly so. It also adds a beautiful green color; if you see a desert that is green, it most likely is flavored with bai toey.
The leaves are long, narrow and tapered. Usually bai toey flavor is added in juice form to recipes, using a 1 to 2 ratio of water to bai toey.
To extract juice from fresh leaves, rinse the leaves, and then finely chop or pound in a mortar and pestle. For 1 cup of bai toey leaves, add 1/2 cup of water. Stir, let it sit for a few minutes, and then squeeze or press through a cheesecloth or fine filter. The leaves are then discarded. The resulting thick juice will be a lovely deep green.
I like adding a splash of bai toey juice to water and simple syrup in a tall glass of ice as a drink on a hot day. The green drink is both refreshing for the palate and the eye. Bai toey added to lemonade is also very good.
Since it’s still so hot, I’ve been making a simple bai toey jello. This way, I can have a quick, cooling snack waiting in the fridge, if I’m in the mood for something lighter than ice cream. You can be very dainty and pour the bai toey jello mixture into small ramekins or handless teacups to savor, or just make a single batch in a bowl or pan. The water chestnuts are optional, but they add a nice crunch to contrast with the gelatinous texture of the jello.
Simple Bai Toey Jello วุ้นใบเตย (Woon bai toey)
- 1 tablespoon agar-agar powder (I usually use Telephone brand)
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup bai toey juice
- ½ cup diced water chestnuts (optional)
Combine agar-agar and water in a pot over medium heat. Stir until the agar-agar has completely dissolved.
Add the sugar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Remove from heat, stir in the bai toey juice until well mixed.
(If you’re using water chestnut, place a cube or two of water chestnut into each ramekin, or simply scatter them over the bottom of the single pan.)
Pour the jello mixture into your container(s). Refrigerate until set.
Something else that’s easy to make is sangkaya สังขยา (or kaya as it’s known in Singapore/Malaysia). Sangkaya is a spread that goes on buttered toast, and goes well with coffee for a good breakfast. The advantage of making your own sangkaya is that you can adjust the sweetness to your liking. I find the commercially- made sangkaya a bit too sweet for my taste.
Sangkaya Bai Toey สังขยาใบเตย
- 2 eggs (duck or chicken) - for a thicker consistency, use 3 eggs!
- 1 ¼ cups coconut cream - canned or boxed works well, if you can’t get fresh - squeezed from the market)
- ¾ cups sugar - more or less, according to your preference
- ¼ cup bai toey juice
- Double boiler
- Handheld blender (optional)
Beat the eggs well in a large bowl.
Mix in coconut cream.
Add sugar and stir until dissolved. (If you prefer a very smooth texture, use a hand-held immersion blender for steps 1- 3)
Pour the mixture into a double boiler over low to medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened.
Stir in the bai toey juice until keep stirring until the sangkaya has reached the consistency you like.
Remove from heat. (At this point, you can use your immersion blender to mix it one more time if you want your sangkaya absolutely lump-free.) The sangkaya can be stored in a jar in the fridge for a week or so.