Thai Cod in Pandan Leaves Recipe

Thai Cod in Pandan Leaves

Thai Cod in Pandan Leaves

This marvellous cod in pandan leaves recipe is sour, spicy, garlicky, and well balanced in taste. It is one of those Thai dishes that really portrays the contrast and excitement of flavours in Thai food.

Pandan leaves also known as screw pine leaves in some countries, ‘bai toey hom’ in Thailand, ‘daun pandan’ in Malaysia and ‘takonoki’ in Japan are long green leaves which have a sweet floral flavour and fragrance and often crowned as the Asian Vanilla. It is a widely used ingredient in most South-Eastern countries to flavour the rice, to make drinks and preparing desserts. 

This cod is moist, flaky, infused with refreshing pandan aroma. The amazing aroma of the leaves is infused into the fish, giving it a distinct flavour and taste.

Nearly any type of fish will work in this recipe, including salmon, red snapper, cod, tilapia, sole, and others. This is an easy and healthy fish recipe that’s also fun to make and the taste is truly gourmet. This recipe is delicious served on its own as a starter or appetizer.  


200 grams cod (diced in 2-inch pieces)
200 grams pandan leaves
Oil for frying
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
½ teaspoon lime juice

Green curry Paste
1 inch galangal/ginger
1 lemon grass
2 garlic cloves
1-2 hot chillies
Small sprig of coriander
1-2 kaffir lime leaves
Few Thai Basil

For The Dressing
1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon white toasted sesame



Take all the ingredients for the curry paste (galangal/ginger, lemon grass, garlic cloves, chillies, coriander, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil) and grind it into a smooth paste in a blender or using a pestle and mortar.


Add the lime juice, 2-3 tablespoons of green paste and sesame oil to the cleaned fish pieces and leave it to marinate for 30 minutes.


For the dressing mix together light soy sauce, dark soya sauce, salt sugar and water. Gently warm it so sugar dissolves and then leave it aside to cool.

Once cooled add the toasted sesame seeds.


Hold the cleaned pandan leaf and press it along the middle to make it flexible. Hold it with the flat side of the leaf on the left and the pointed part on your right. Cross it to make a pocket and while doing it you will notice that the flat side is on the right now. Place a marinated fish piece in the pocket.


Bring the long-pointed end of the leaf down and thread it through at the back through the loop. Use the thumb or index finger to help thread the leaf through. To make it sure you can loop the pointed side of the leaf one more time to secure the fish. Pull gently to make sure the fish is secured in the pocket. On the other side, tuck the fish in if it is protruding. Wrap the long end of the leaf back over and pull the leaf through the loop again to secure. Cut off a little of the excess leaf from the pointed side.


Heat oil for frying. Once hot fry the fish parcels for 2-3 minutes from both sides in batches. Fish is ready when the oil stops sizzling, and the exposed area of the fish has changed colour to light gold.

Transfer the fish pieces to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Tips & Variations

  1. I have used cod for this recipe but any white fish like sea bass, salmon, red snapper, cod, tilapia, sole, halibut, haddock works well.
  2. If the pandan leaves have any roots on them, remove these and clean the leaves.
  3. When using frozen leaves, thaw them at room temperature then rinse them under cold water and dry well before using.
  4. Marinate the fish for maximum of 1 hour.
  5. The fish should be wrapped securely in the pandan leaf, with a little tip peeking out through the top. You can also wrap the fish by simply rolling the leaf around the marinated fish and fastening with a toothpick.
  6. Whatever method you use for wrapping the fish make sure to secure the fish inside the pandan leaves as the fish will shrink during deep frying.
  7. Use the broad and long pandan leaves for easy wrapping.
  8. Make sure the oil is nice and hot before popping in the fish.
  9. Try not to crowd the pan when frying. Fry the fish in batches if you have to. This keeps the heat more even as it cooks the fish.

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