Pandanus amaryllifolius is the edible Pandanus Leaf that is grown for and used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking for flavouring. Also known as Rampe in Sri Lanka, Duan Pandan in Malaysia and Screwpine.
The fragrance of the leaf is used widely in rice dishes and curries, but also in other dishes where ingredients are wrapped in pandanus leaf.
One of the major problems is that this is leaf that needs to be used fresh, it is usually used within 2 days as it looses its flavour quickly after that.
In areas where the leaf is grown, it is often turned into a paste, or an extract and used this way rather than the leaf itself. You can buy frozen pandanus leaves, however you do need to look for good overall green colour, and even then the flavour will not be as strong as that of fresh leaves.
The actual taste imparted by the leaf is sweet, aromatic, nutty and with a hint of vanilla. With this flavour profile it is easy to see why it is often used for deserts and cakes.
Growing Pandanus Leaf
This is really a tropical plant so unless you are in Northern New South Wales or further North it could prove rather difficult to grow your own Pandanus leaf successfully.
However if you can create a warm microclimate it could be worth a try, no cold winds, no frost and plenty of water. It will reach around 2m however if you are using it in the kitchen the constant picking will limit growth.
Some liquid seaweed fertilizer applied in spring and summer or a general purpose slow release fertilizer seems to be adequate. If growing in a container you will need to repot every 3-4 years.
When harvesting the leaves, you can freeze any left over sections. Freeze them on a tray and then transfer them to a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer.
Using Pandanus Leaf in Cooking.
Perhaps the simplest use is to add a small section of leaf when cooking rice, this adds the fragrance and flavour experiance in many asian dishes.
You can also add the leaf to curries, as well as wrap cakes in individual leaves when cooking.
Meats such as chicken can also be wrapped and steamed.
Finding Pandanus Leak Plants
Pandanus amaryllifolius has been difficult to find for sale in Australia. However it has become more readily available as nurseries realise the demand for fresh pandanus leaves of the edible variety.
Pandanus amaryllifolius or Pandanus Leaf Plants are available from the following growers
PO BOX 150 El Arish Qld 4855
Largest online selection of tropical exotic plants in Australia. Heliconias, gingers, cordylines and brugmansias. Retail center open by appointment only.