Stunned Like Vegetable
I went about my usual shopping today at the wet market for the week’s grocery and planning new and interesting meals for my family. I gotta say this, cooking helps bond the family together. If you don’t believe me, try cooking all your meals at home and have everyone eating together at the same time. Powerful man.
But what is more power is this Kacang Petai that I got from the vegetable seller. They all look so innocently polished and refined, and such a beautiful greenish hue, but oh my, the vegetable has an awful stench of fresh vomit on pavement. Stink beans as some people call it, and when I had a whiff of it, my stomach tied itself into a knot. As Chen Tian Wen would probably say Stunned Like Vegetable. Except perhaps in my case, I so stunned by vegetable.
Anyway, from what I read, the only way to cook this vegetable is to mix it with an equally convulsive ingredient, the Belacan. That old stinky fermented dried paste of the carcasses of rotting sea-creatures, dried in sun and congealed into blocks of smelly goodness. The two ingredients coming together officially makes it a double stunning to awaken the senses.
Add a little Assam, dried shrimps (hae bi) and a few tubes of chilli padi, this rather unique dish will take shape and become nothing short of delicious. I have had it at the Makchik’s Nasi Padang stall at the market, and it is just awesome. Of course, my version is more flavourful, I cooking for my family, not cook to sell.
300 grams of Kacang Petai
100 grams of Dried Shrimps
5-6 tubes of Chilli Padi
2-3 cm of Belacan
4-5 Glass Prawns (fresh from the wet market)
A little Assam or Tamarind
1. Soak the petai in hot water, so that it won’t be so stinky (I doubt it removes any stink). Process the dried shrimps, chilli padi and belacan in a food chopper to combine the ingredients into a paste.
2. Stir fry the paste in 2 tbsp of oil until fragrant (and pungent). Add some salt if you like, but the hae bi should be quite salty already. Once cooked reserved the paste one side.
3. Add the prawns (and more oil if needed) and fry until the prawns all turn into a “C” shape. Then reserved the prawns aside.
4. Now fry the petai beans in the wok with the Belacan paste. Then add the rest of the ingredients together for a good combine. Add a little water into the Tamarind, and then add the strained juice of Assam into the wok and continue frying until the beans are relatively cooked but still firmed.
5. Serve with steam rice.