Pandan, a beloved flavoring throughout Southeast Asia, can be found in a variety of forms at Asian food markets across the U.S.
For savory preparations like the Malay-style red-cooked chicken or the Thai pandan-wrapped chicken, in which whole or sliced leaves are used, (1) fresh leaves ($16 for 18 leaves; importfood.com) are best.
If fresh aren't available, (2) frozen pandan leaves ($1 for an 8-ounce packet; philamfood.com) are a good substitute.
For sweets such as the pandan chiffon cake and the pandan, palm sugar, and coconut dumplings, nam bai toey, (3) canned pandan leaf extract ($3 for a 14-ounce can; mythaistore.com
In general, avoid products labeled “pandan flavoring” or “pandan-flavored paste”; they often rely on artificial flavorings and colorings to approximate the taste of pandan.
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See a gallery of pandan recipes »