Pandan wrapped roast pork

A few months ago, I was at my favourite Thai grocery store picking up some kaffir lime leaves when I noticed they had frozen packages of pandan leaves. I’ve had pandan flavoured dishes before, but I’d never actually seen the leaves. Curiosity perked, I threw the package into the basket. Upon getting home, my newly discovered pandan leaves found themselves in the freezer where over time, they were covered over in layers of other shiny new ingredients, until they were all but forgotten.

During a recent expedition into the frozen depths of the my freezer, I decided to do something with the 4lbs of rib tips I’d picked up for $1.29/lb at Fresh Direct. Digging a little further I uncovered a corner of something curiously green. Tossing aside some chicken thighs, a puck of pie dough, and some frozen strawberries, I uncovered a slightly frosty bag of bright green pandan leaves. “Perfect!” I thought.

In case you’re not familiar with pandan, they’re the leaves of the pandanus plant, which grows all over Asia, going by names such as screw pine (English), cây cơm nếp (Vietnamese), and Nioi-takonoki (Japanese). It’s commonly used in both desserts and savoury dishes in Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, adding an earthy green flavour to everything it touches. The flowers and fruit are also used and the leaves are even woven into bags and mats.

Since I’ve never cooked with pandan before, I knew this experiment could go horribly wrong, but my fears were quickly allayed as the earthy tea-like smell of the roasting pandan wafted through my apartment. This was soon joined by the smell of smoky savoury pork and as the day passed, the aroma grew sweeter and more intense, sending me into a dizzying spell of hunger pangs.

Five hours later, I was rewarded for my patience by a mound of steaming pork with a depth of flavour I wouldn’t have though possible given that it was only seasoned with smoked salt and pandan leaves. I served this with rice and lomi lomi salmon which made for a perfect balance of colours and flavours. While the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, it was a little hard to eat due to all the bone and cartilage, so next time I’m going to try using pork butt.

As I was cleaning up, I noticed there was a lot of caramelized brown goodness at the bottom of the pandan weave. Thinking it was a shame to waste all that fond, I tossed all the leaves into a pot with a few cups of water and cooked it for 20 minutes. The result was a mahogany brown pork stock that was the liquid version of what I’d just eaten. The next day, I tossed the leftover pork in a rice cooker with the stock, rice, tomato, chili peppers, garlic, cumin and cinnamon. It was delicious.

14 pandan (screw pine) leaves
4 lbs pork butt or other well marbled cut of pork cut into large chunks
smoked sea salt

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 275 degrees F.

Lay down a wide piece of aluminum foil on a roasting pan and assemble a 7 x 7 weave of pandan leaves.

Add the pork and sprinkle generously with smoked salt, turning the pork several times to ensure the pieces are well coated. Fold the ends of the pandan over the pork, continuing the weave to cover the meat. Wrap the foil around the entire bundle, sealing loosely at the top so steam can escape.

Put it in the oven for 4-5 hours or until the pork is fork tender.

  • http://onefilipinodish.com/ paoix

    this looks really good! i love the fragrance that pandan gives off

  • http://onefilipinodish.com paoix

    this looks really good! i love the fragrance that pandan gives off

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Great idea using the smoked salt. For the Hawaiian Kalua Pork, it is usually wrapped in ti leaves and then cooked in a underground oven called an imu. People make a home oven recipe using Hawaiian Salt and liquid smoke. The smoked salt seems much better. BTW in the imu pork they don’t salt it until after it comes out of the oven and then a salt water mixuture is poured over it.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Great idea using the smoked salt. For the Hawaiian Kalua Pork, it is usually wrapped in ti leaves and then cooked in a underground oven called an imu. People make a home oven recipe using Hawaiian Salt and liquid smoke. The smoked salt seems much better. BTW in the imu pork they don’t salt it until after it comes out of the oven and then a salt water mixuture is poured over it.

  • http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/ Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gou

    I love how you described the entire experience! Made me think I was in the kitchen too! Now I’m hungry!! Thanks!!! LOL

  • http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet

    I love how you described the entire experience! Made me think I was in the kitchen too! Now I’m hungry!! Thanks!!! LOL

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    I love pandan especially grilled pandan chicken wings! Yours with pork looks amazing…

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    I love pandan especially grilled pandan chicken wings! Yours with pork looks amazing…

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    My goodness. How does one get a dinner invitation to your place?

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    My goodness. How does one get a dinner invitation to your place?

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Seriously, Marc, are you trying to kill me with this?! This is minimalist cooking at its finest. Bravo, dude:D

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com Jenni

    Seriously, Marc, are you trying to kill me with this?! This is minimalist cooking at its finest. Bravo, dude:D

  • http://www.sweetsfoods.com/ Gera @ SweetsFoods

    You’ve had so many patience with the smoky-flavorful pork but at last you were awarded indeed!
    I’m sure it must taste absolutely delicious–gorgeous work, Marc :)

    Cheers!
    Gera

  • http://www.sweetsfoods.com/ Gera @ SweetsFoods

    You’ve had so many patience with the smoky-flavorful pork but at last you were awarded indeed!
    I’m sure it must taste absolutely delicious–gorgeous work, Marc :)

    Cheers!
    Gera

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    That pork has to come out super flavorful! Great recipe!

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    That pork has to come out super flavorful! Great recipe!

  • http://www.steamykitchen.com/ jaden, steamykitchen

    pork belly! lovin’ your blog more and more…

    jaden

  • http://www.steamykitchen.com jaden, steamykitchen

    pork belly! lovin’ your blog more and more…

    jaden

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ Elra

    I love pandan leaves. In Bali, beside for cooking, they also use this for offering. First they take layers of the leave, then slice them into super thin strips. Sprinkle this on top of the flowers for the offering to God. I miss the smell sometimes. I can only get them frozen here, so it doesn’t have the same fragrant as the fresh one.

    I must admit that your recipe is really unusual and very creative too. Pork sounds absolutely delicious Marc.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com Elra

    I love pandan leaves. In Bali, beside for cooking, they also use this for offering. First they take layers of the leave, then slice them into super thin strips. Sprinkle this on top of the flowers for the offering to God. I miss the smell sometimes. I can only get them frozen here, so it doesn’t have the same fragrant as the fresh one.

    I must admit that your recipe is really unusual and very creative too. Pork sounds absolutely delicious Marc.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk/ Just Cook It

    Looks, and sounds, amazing.

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk Just Cook It

    Looks, and sounds, amazing.

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com/ veggiebelly

    Beautiful! You have me salivating at the “earthy tea like smell” description! Ive been curious about pandan for a while now, I’m so glad you posted this. I’m wondering if I can roast veggies and tofu this way..hmmm…

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com veggiebelly

    Beautiful! You have me salivating at the “earthy tea like smell” description! Ive been curious about pandan for a while now, I’m so glad you posted this. I’m wondering if I can roast veggies and tofu this way..hmmm…

  • http://www.kibelesofrasi.com/ banu gökşin – tule – istanbul

    looks great very different
    delicious

  • http://www.kibelesofrasi.com banu gökşin – tule – istanbul

    looks great very different
    delicious

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek

    OOOOOH. I just made Cochinita pibil, a yucatecan banana leaf wrapped pork which is smothered in ground annatto seeds and other spices.

    I cooked it low and slow too!

    It turned out beautifully – a sort of confit.

    But then I imagined thai flavors for wrapped pork and my imagination took off. Nice to see that some people are thinking just what i’m thinking…

    Next time I will try and dig a hole in the ground.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek

    OOOOOH. I just made Cochinita pibil, a yucatecan banana leaf wrapped pork which is smothered in ground annatto seeds and other spices.

    I cooked it low and slow too!

    It turned out beautifully – a sort of confit.

    But then I imagined thai flavors for wrapped pork and my imagination took off. Nice to see that some people are thinking just what i’m thinking…

    Next time I will try and dig a hole in the ground.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

Homemade Asian beef balls
Salmon with a minty miso glaze
Beef Tri-Tip with Roasted Figs
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
Caterpillar Roll
Kuromame (black soy beans)
Broccoli Rabe and Caramelized Onion Frittata
Chickpeas with spring greens