Blending of Cultures: Pandan Sablés

Sablé (in French) or shortbread (in English) uses such simple ingredients that the quality of each element plays an important role, so use only the best you can find for this crumbly shortbread-style biscuit that has this wonderful buttery taste and pandan (vanilla-like) aroma. By introducing the pandan flavour into the European cuisine, these Sablés became the talk of Christmas dinners in Switzerland.

Donny Lee

Is that Matcha or Wasabi? Are these Sablés savoury or sweet

I left Singapore when I was 22 to be with my partner. Leaving Singapore was both easy and difficult at the same time. Easy, because I felt that I didn’t belong in Singapore. Difficult, because, I had to learn a new language, find new friends, pursue a career in a foreign country and more important of all, learn how to cook all my favourite Singapore “comfort” food. It was still rather difficult finding the necessary ingredients in Switzerland back then in 2002, so many times compromises had to be made. I guess that’s how most fusion cuisine started and led me to find my own definition of “belonging/home” through combining food cultures.

How would one then define “Belonging”? A sense of where home is or where one was born? After spending 16 years in Switzerland, which is also the majority of my adult life, I do feel home here in Switzerland, but I look Asian, so to most locals, I don’t really belong here.  Though I sometimes don't 'feel' at home whenever I'm back in Singapore on annual leave visiting family and friends, I am still familiar with most parts of Singapore: its culture, the shopping centres, the slangs and local cuisines.

Despite being away from Singapore for so long, I consider myself a typical Singaporean; Kiasuism runs through my blood, Singlish is spoken with my childhood friends, and the love for food is considered as part of my culture. After experimenting with many different dishes, Pandan turns out to be the most versatile for a fusion cuisine. Even with a full-time job, I run Pandan Treasures as a “side” online business, because I yearn to share our culture (love for food) with the Swiss people. Pandan’s aroma, similar to vanilla and roasted nuts, made it very easy and acceptable to the European cuisine; both savoury and sweet.

Pandan Sablés: buttery goodness in every bite.

The vibrant green colour of pandan often sparks conversations amongst the Europeans during aperitif or dinner parties, as green food was once considered poisonous or simply spicy (because of wasabi). I have always wanted to bridge different cultures to ensure people feel “at home”; unexpectedly I have managed to do just that through my passion for food. The success of Pandan Sablés depends very much on the few qualitied ingredients, just like Singapore, a small melting pot of cultures with a diverse human capital will ensure a flourishing future. I am optimistic that Singapore will one day soon be a safe haven without discrimination for different people from all across the globe, after all we are all people of this planet.

Pandan Sablés are the perfect Christmas-time snack, and great for dinner parties.

With Christmas and Chinese New Year just around the corner, try making this easy and delicious “melt in your mouth” biscuit to wow your guests! Alternatively, you can also order online at:

1 tbsp Pandan Juice (cold pressed from 5 pandan leaves)
½ tsp Pandan Paste
200g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature, diced)
175g Caster Sugar
½ tsp Flaked Sea Salt
2 Egg Yolks
400g Plain Flour

 Baking Method
1. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl, and using a mixer, beat until smooth and creamy
2. Add pandan juice, pandan paste, sugar and salt, continue beating until light and fluffy, for a few more minutes
3. Add egg yolks and beat until fully combined
4. Sift in the flour in one go and mix on a slow speed until the mixture resembles sand or gravel: don’t overmix – it should not for a uniform dough
5. Pour mixture onto a work surface and use your hands to gently bring together into a uniform dough

6. Divide the dough into four portions and roll into four logs, roughly 3cm thick in diameter. Wrap them in clingfilm and transfer them to the fridge to chill for 3 hours or until firm.
7. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (140 degrees fan oven mode) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
8. Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the dough into 0.5cm-thick slices and put onto the baking trays. Tip: slightly warm the knife by dipping it in warm water before cutting.
9. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

10. Leave to cool on trays for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These sablés will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container in a fridge.

Makes about 60 - 80 pieces




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