October 22, 2011

Petai or Smelly Beans

My petai dish of fresh coconut juice and sambal belacan stir fry.....

Petai seeds already taken out of their pods.

For easier cooking half the seeds

Add dried prawns ...pounded finely in mortar....with onions and garlic

Stir fry with sambal belacan....with just a bit of oil

Add juice from half or all of a coconut taken fresh from a tree. Continue to boil until slightly more than half of soup is left. The stew is excellent. The petai will absorb the sweetness of the coconut water.

Parkia speciosa (petaibitter bean, Thai: sataw (สะตอ), twisted cluster beanyongchaayongchaak or kampaizawngṭah or stink bean) is a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. It bears long, flat edible beans with bright green seeds the size and shape of plump almonds which have a rather peculiar smell, characterised by some as being similar to that added to methane gas.
The beans are truly an acquired taste and many people in Sarawak turn their nose up on them. But actually they  are popular in Laos, southern ThailandBurmaSingaporeIndonesia, and northeastern India, and are sold in bunches, still in the pod, or the seeds are sold in plastic bags. Pods are gathered from the wild, or from cultivated trees: they are exported in jars or cans, pickled in brine, or frozen. In Miri petai are sold in the native markets in little plates for RM2 each or still in their pods. some are sold as salted petai in bottles.

 They are best when combined with other strongly flavoured foods such as garlicchile peppers, and dried shrimp, as in "sambal petai", or added to a Thai curry such as Thai Duck Green Curry. When young the pods are flat because the seeds have not yet developed, and they hang like a bunch of slightly twisted ribbons, pale green, almost translucent. At this stage they may be eaten raw, fried or pickled. Young tender pods with undeveloped beans can be used whole in stir-fried dishes.  In Indonesia, petai is very popular in the highlands of JavaSumatra, especially among BatakMinangkabau and many other people in different cultures of the island.
Petai beans or seeds look like broad beans. Like mature broad beans, they may have to be peeled before cooking. Petai has earned its nickname 'stink bean' because its strong smell is very pervasive. It lingers in the mouth and body. Like asparagus, it contains certain amino acids that give a strong smell to one's urine, an effect that can be noticed up to two days after consumption. Like other beans, their complexcarbohydrates can also cause strong-smelling flatulence.

A local doctor has told me that it is indeed good to eat petai if one is keen to "flush" one's kidneys every now and then. I find it an excellent dish myself and have been eating petai whenever I can.

My favourite way of cooking petai is the usual sambal belacan stir fry but I add half a coconut's juice instead of water. Some tumeric will also give the sauce a nice colouring. Give this organic dish a try.


Ann said...

despite what Lat said in his magazine, I didn't find it smelling bad.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann

The nice beans dish will make you forget that it has a strong smell which is not BAD at all actually. It is an acquired taste.


Ann said...

my friends say even the urine will smell, but my cleaner didn't complain. Of course, I bribe her with giving her a serving. In Singapore, they cook it with prawn and sambal.

sarawaklens said...

not everyone's cup of tea, definitely. but i like the taste. if i'm not mistaken, petai makes your urine smell because of asparagine which is also in asparagus.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...