Today we made Lime & Pandan Marmalade with pandan leaf extract. We're extremely lucky to work alongside pastry chef Carla while cooking our jam at Chestnut (her and her husband also run the delightful Mama's Food Shop on the Lower East Side). Not only is she incredibly kind and lovely, she's also a flavor master who has worked in some of the finest restaurants and haut-dessert enterprises. We often get into discussions about flavor as we groggily listen to NPR in the morning--Carla concocting delicious desserts while we mix our elixirs of the jar. She suggested pandan, which she used in a chocolate she designed for Vosges Chocolates.
Pandan (P. amaryllifolius) leaves are amazing. They're used in Southeast Asian cooking to add a distinct aroma (coconutty? hazelnutty? leafy?) to rice and curry dishes such as nasi lemak, kaya preserves (Malaysian/Indonesian coconut egg jam which has coconut, pandan & duck eggs--total anarchy), and desserts such as pandan cake. The aroma is caused by the aroma compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is what gives jasmine rice its unique smell. Pandan are called daun pandan in Indonesian and Malay; and 斑蘭 (bān lán) in Mandarin.
But what to mix it with? She brought us a little sample and we started experimenting. The Southeast Asian aroma instantly made us think lime marmalade. But with the heady, exotic flavor notes of pandan, we didn't want our marmalade too bitter or chewy as it often is with big hunks of peel. We microplaned the peel and finely seperated the membrane from the fruit to make it as pure and dainty as possible. It's insane and delicious! Great on toast, poundcake, as a glaze on meat or fish, or mixed with a little water and drizzled over fruit.
Lime & Pandan Marmalade Recipe
20 limes 8 cups sugar 1/2 teaspoon pandan extract (found in SE Asian markets) about 4-5 cups water
Scrub limes and zest them with a microplane into a large measuring bowl. Remove the bitter white pith from the lime peel. Section out the lime pulp from the tougher membrane with a paring knife. Squeeze Juice out of membrane before discarding. Add enough water to equal 8 cups of total pulp & water and pour into saucepan.
Bring the lime pulp, zest & water mixture to a boil for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool thoroughly--cool for at least two hours or refrigerate overnight.
Add sugar and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for approximately 20 minutes, or until jam is set and has reached 220 degrees (put some on a spoon in a dish, and set it in the fridge for a few minutes, to test the set). Do not overcook or marmalade will solidify. Add pandan, bring back to a boil and turn off heat. Let sit 3 minutes and stir to make sure zest is distributed.
Fill jars to within a ¼ inch of the top and sealing (for jar preparation, see this detailed recipe). Boil for 10 minutes in a water bath. Let rest 5 minutes in bath, then remove. Listen for the jars to “pop” letting you know the jam is sealed! Do not move for 6 to 12 hours to get a proper set.
Eat with pleasure.