The Search for Padan Leaves and Other Tales

Let’s go back a few weeks to a lovely night David and I spent at Susan Feniger’s new-ish restaurant Street. When I lived in Los Angeles I loved visiting Susan and her partner Mary Sue Miliken’s fantastic restaurants Ciudad and Border Grill. Knowing the fantastic food Susan can put out, plus I think she is such a gentle lamb, I was stoked to eat at Street.

As you may recall, Susan left Top Chef Masters because the judges disliked that she made a “sandwich” at such a crucial point in the game. After eating her exact Kaya Toast creation from the show at Street all I have to say is the judges were waaaaaaaaaaay wrong. We ate a lot that night but this was my favorite. So much so, we kept talking about how awesome it was and we bet we could make it too. A little searching later and voila here was the recipe! The only difference in this recipe than the restaurant version is that Feniger served it with a fried egg instead of soft-boiled.Yesterday I had the day off and was determined to make this for us to try. The only hitch? Padan leaves. What are those you ask? I turn to the Thai Food section on to let you do a little light reading. I searched for specialty Asian markets here in Austin and the first one I called said they had them…YAY! I drove to MT Supermarket and walked straight down to aisle five and there they were, frozen Pandan leaves. After dethawing, as I opened the package I let out a big “Oh! That’s it!” What was it? This dear readers was the smell i.e. the flavor that made Susan’s jam just so delicious.

I followed the instructions listed in the recipe and though it’s tedious, dude it is like a custard, it came together pretty quickly. We let the jam sit overnight and then for lunch assembled the dish. People, I SNORTED this, not kidding. It was almost as good as the restaurant and the butter on the jam on the toasted bread was absolutely fantastic. I also served with some fresh arugula, low-sodium soy sauce (hey you’ve got to cut back somewhere right?) and a fried egg. David was quite impressed as well – for the win! I’m quite concerned because I have a vat of the jam in my fridge and it’s calling my name as I type this. Maybe just one more to make sure it’s really that delicious? Please give this a try if you (a) can find Pandan leaves (b) want to commit yourself to devouring a vat of coconut jam for the next week. Here is our completed dish!

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