A few drops of pandan paste will add bright green color, mild pandan flavor, and sweet aroma to your baked goods.
What is Pandan?
Pandan or screwpine is a tropical plant with fragrant leaves which are used widely for flavoring in Southeast Asian cooking. Pandan leaves are sleek and elongated with a bright green color that grow in a fan-like arrangement. It is a popular and cost-effective substitute for vanilla and is used in a variety of savory and sweet dishes. Learn more about pandan.
What is Pandan Paste?
Pandan paste or essence is an extract made from pandan leaves. It is used primarily for Southeast Asian desserts. Compared to pandan essence, pandan paste has a stronger taste because it is boiled down to produce a more concentrated pandan flavor.
When to Use Pandan Paste
Fresh pandan leaves are almost always the first choice for cooking savory dishes; while the juice, extract, paste can all be used for desserts. Fresh pandan juice and extract can be made by blending pandan leaves with water. Then, the juice is strained. You can immediately use the juice in your recipes. The juice can also be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. During that time, the pandan juice will naturally separate if left undisturbed. Remove the watery liquid at the top to leave behind the extract.
Some people use pandan juice and extract in their recipes. However, they are diluted and would be difficult to be used in certain recipes. The pandan paste has a more concentrated pandan flavor. Therefore, you can infuse the pandan flavor without adding too many liquids to your recipes.
Substitute Fresh Pandan Juice with Pandan Paste
Homemade pandan paste has a very nice and fresh smell. Unfortunately, it lasts up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and takes too long to make. In addition, fresh or frozen pandan leaves can also be difficult to find. This is when commercial pandan paste or extract comes in handy.
If you are using them to make desserts, you can substitute the pandan juice with pandan paste or extract diluted with water. Use it sparingly to add flavor and an impressive green shade to your dishes.
Where to Buy
These bottled extracts store well in a pantry for several months. You can find these bottles at big supermarkets, Asian grocery stores, or online.