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Bai Toey Hom Or Pandan Leaves

Pandan Leaves Called Bai Teoy Hom In Thailand

 


While Bai Teoy is sometimes used as a girl's name in Thailand, there is an important food flavoring ingredient used in Thai food that goes by the name of bai toey hom. Biologically speaking, pandan leaves or bai toey hom in Thai, belong to the pandanus (screwpine) genus. It is the tempting aroma of pandan leaves that has made them a very popular flavoring agent in Southeast Asia. Bai toey hom is rarely found as a wild natural growth, it is generally cultivated by farmers. Since the plant does not generally yield flowers, farmers rely on cut stems to increase the number of plants.

bai teoy leaves thai food ingredient
Pandan leaves known as Bai Toey Hom in Thailand are very commonly used as flavoring agents. While fresh pandan leaves give the best flavor, you might also have access to bai toey hom extract.

Visitors to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia have been particularly impressed with the aromatic flavor that pandan leaves impart to local food. This is one of the reason why bai toey hom is available in Asian stores in many countries outside Asia too. You might not always have access to fresh pandan leaves but, finding dried leaves might not be very difficult. Besides fresh and dried bai toey hom leaves, food manufacturers also provide pandan leaf extract in the form of a paste or concetrated essence. If you are lucky enough to have a choice of more than one form of pandan leaves, keep the flavor levels in mind. It is quite obvious that, fresh pandan leaves provide the best flavor. Next comes, pandan leaf paste which is generally available in plastic bottles. Bai toey hom essence can be a bit tricky because, the exact composition of the material can vary from one manufacturer to the other. We have come across pandan leaf essence bottles that, are largely composed of synthetically made smelling agents - one of them even left an after flavor of cooking oil in the mouth! So instead of taking a risk on the flavor, we would suggest that you choose dried bai toey hom leaves instead of the essence.

The pandan plant generally has a bunch of leaves spread out like a fan - the pandan leaves are long and narrow, sword like but not always very long. There are two food ingredients that seem to get a real boost to their own flavor when combined with the flavor of bai toey hom leaves - these are rice and coconut milk. To give out their sweet fragrance and hint of sweetness, pandan leaves need to be ground or boiled so this is how most Thai and Southeast Asian food recipes use bai toey.

Uses For Bai Toey Leaves: Inorder to release their true aroma, bai toey leaves are ideally added to food dishes that have substantial liquid content. An easy way to relish the thrill of this Thai food ingredient is to bunch up a few fresh or frozen (thawed) pandan leaves and drop them into the pan or cooker along with rice - let the leaves cook along with the rice. Keep the leaves intact without cutting them, bunch them and then, loop them to form a knot, so you need not use a string or band to tie them up together. The pandan leaves would impart their tempting aroma and flavor to the rice, you can discard the bunch of leaves once the rice is fully cooked. In Thailand, bai toey hom leaf extract is diluted with water and served as a refreshing cool drink, it is not uncommon for other herbs to be added to the drink. If you want to try this interesting flavor for your ice cream, add a few drops of pandan leaf juice when making the ice cream. Thai food is known for it's share of sweet delicacies too and many of these are either steamed, boiled or cooked in an oven. Pandan leaves are sometimes used to wrap a part or whole of some sweet dishes, the dish is then cooked, boiled or baked along with the leaf. Once cooked, you peel off the bai toey leaf and enjoy it's fragrance absorbed by the dish inside. It is not just Thai sweets that are wrapped in pandan leaves and cooked, an interesting chicken dish uses the method too. For example, in the 'kai ob bai toey', chicken pieces are wrapped in bai toey hom leaves, the pieces are then baked in an oven. Once again, you strip the pandan leaf off the cooked dish and enjoy the fragrant chicken meat inside.

Procuring Pandan Leaves: If you happen to be in Thailand, Malaysia or Vietnam finding fresh bai toey hom leaves should not be a problem. You would need to visit a couple of Southeast Asian grocery stores if, you are in any other part of the world. Another option would be to look for frozen pandan leaves, these might not give you the bright flavor of fresh bai toey leaves but, they will do quite a good job. And if both fresh and frozen pandan leaves are not available, consider using dried bai toey leaves though, the flavor given by these dried leaves is quite subdued. Dried pandan leaves would obviously need to be rehydrated before use - instructions on the packet should guide you with information on cooking with dried leaves. Since dried pandan leaves would have lost quite a bit of aroma, it might be a good idea to increase the proportion of pandan leaves in any recipe where they are used. Pandan leaf extract is often sold in Asian stores but, many of these products are infused with artificial colors and preservatives. Try to choose a brand of bai toey hom paste that has just leaves and water as ingredients. In our opinion, very little natural element of pandan leaves exists in readymade pandan essence products.

Storing Pandan:  As you might expect, dried bai toey leaves can be stored for even 10-12 months as long as, they are kept dry. Pack fresh or frozen pandan leaves tightly in a plastic bag and keep them in the freezer, these will maintain a good condition for around 2 months. When it comes to pandan extract, you can do the process on your own and then, freeze the extracted juice for a couple of months. Here is a quick tip, freeze pandan juice extract in an ice tray - keep the ice cubes that way. Drop in one or two cubes of frozen bai toey hom juice into the dish during the cooking process.

Making Bai Toey Juice: If you have access to fresh or frozen pandan leaves, you can transform them into a more convenient form by extracting juice from them. This method also allows you to preserve pandan for a longer time. Here is how you can make pandan leaf juice and freeze it for future use. Cut the pandan leaves into pieces that are around half inch in length, check the volume of the cut leaves and add half that volume of water to the cut pieces. Process the cut leaves and water in a food processor, extract the juice and discard the pulp. You can use an ice tray that is made for small ice cubes and pour the pandan juice into each of the slots in the tray. Freeze the ice tray and use the cubes as and when required.

Bai Teoy Hom or pandan leaves are just one of the many flavoring agents used in cooking Thai food. If you are interested in experiencing the fragrance and flavor of this very popular Thai food ingredient, consider adding a bit of pandan leaf extract or pandan leaves to any rice or coconut milk dish that you prepare often. Milk shakes, cakes and puddings are some other delicacies that can benefit from the aroma of pandan leaves. If you have found the information in this report to be useful or interesting, do share the link of this web page with your friends and collegues.

 

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