Something green was what came to my mind when I was brainstorming for my next recipe. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I wanted the recipe to be helpful for people looking for something to serve or eat for the Irish holiday.
I don’t know any Irish dishes but I do know Filipino dishes that have some green in them, particularly desserts that have pandan or screw pine leaves.
Pandan leaves are widely used in Southeast Asia for their infusion of aroma and flavor. Filipinos would take a strip of pandan, tie it in a knot, and incorporate it when cooking rice. Once the rice is done, it will give the rice such sweet aroma. To remove the pandan, we simply pull out the string; the knot will help not break the leaf upon removal.
In addition to rice, Filipinos also use pandan in desserts such as in cakes, pastries, sweet salads, and ice cream. Pandan is often paired with coconut-either coconut milk or coconut meat or both. For my recipe, I’m featuring the widely popular sweet dessert: Buko Pandan or Coconut Pandan. The traditional recipe calls for heavy manufacturing cream which I simply replaced with coconut cream. Everything else was made in traditional way. I’m proud to disclose that our traditional gelatin is made of agar-agar and is vegan!
If you could find pandan leaves fresh at the market, then lucky you. But if you couldn’t find them fresh, you could also get them at the frozen section of a nearby Asian supermarket, which I did. If you couldn’t find either fresh or frozen, you may also get pandan extract, also at your Asian supermarket. Just follow the directions in the bottle for the ratio.
BUKO PANDAN SALAD
- 6-8 strips pandan leaves
- 2 cups of water
- 3/4 teaspoon agar-agar powder, available at Asian stores
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup nut milk (almond or coconut or soymilk. I used Califia Vanilla flavored almond milk)
- 1/2 cup shredded young coconut (better if fresh, but you could also find them at the frozen section of Asian markets, just thaw first before using)
- 6 tbsp Nata de Coco (available at Filipino and/or Asian supermarkets)
- Using a high speed blender or food processor, blend the pandan with water. Strain by using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
- Using a sauce pan or small pot, heat the pandan juice over high heat. Add a bit more water if you’ve significantly lost water during the blending (to maintain the 2 cups ratio). Let the juice simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the agar-agar powder and sugar. Constantly stir until the powder and sugar have fully melted.
- As soon as it starts boiling, turn off the heat and transfer to a mold, baking pan, or glass container. Let it cool then refrigerate to set (about 30-45 minutes).
- Once the jelly has set, remove the fridge. Cut into blocks and add them to your Buko salad.
- In a serving bowl, mix the coconut cream, nut milk, shredded young coconut, and nata de coco. Add a bit of sugar if you’d like to sweetened it.
- Add the pandan jelly.
- Garnish with lemon (suggested serving)
Buko pandan salad tastes creamy, sweet, and refreshing. It’s great for parties or as a sweet treat after a long day at work. You could make a bunch ahead of time and just leave them in the fridge for a later snack. Anyway you want it, I’m sure you’ll be happy to discover the wonderful flavors of pandan. Kain na, let’s eat! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!