Parkia speciosa (petai, twisted cluster bean, yongchaak, zawngtah 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.
Wednesday is a great day to reflect on food eaten and wondering why the day is getting much shorter all of a sudden. The latest ingredient found in China Town is surprisingly fresh petai, known rather fondly as smelly beans. I’m surprised to find them fresh over here actually, as outside of Asia they are more likely to be sold in cans.
Petai are usually cooked as part of a side dish, either grilled or fried with a sambal sauce similar to the one I used for cooking Kangkung belado. They can also be added to curries, eaten raw or pickled. Unfortunately there is a reason why it is dubbed “smelly beans”, as potent as garlic and similar to asparagus in some unfortunate ways it is the fastest way to not have a social life.
So why even bother? Despite being an acquired taste, they are rather more-ish with a nice crunch and a slight acidic after taste. It’s one of those food group that you either love or hate, but having it fresh is definitely best.
On a more conventional food note, it was my housemate’s turn to cook last Sunday and he raised the bar in the dinner stake. One of the clear winner was the Courgette & mushroom bread. The recipe was taken from BBC Good Food.
- 3 medium courgettes , grated
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100g chestnut mushrooms , chopped
- 350g plain flour
- 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- ½ tbsp coarse sea salt , to sprinkle
- Put the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tsp of the salt. Leave to stand for 20 mins, then, using your hands, squeeze out as much of the moisture as possible. Rinse the courgettes thoroughly, then squeeze again.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic for 4 mins until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 4 mins until softened and browned, then add the courgettes and cook for another 2 mins. Strain well and set aside to cool; discard the liquid.
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, the remaining oil and salt, the basil and the courgette mixture. Mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add 125ml hand-hot water. Mix well to form a slightly sticky dough. Knead on a floured surface for about 10 mins, then shape into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet.
- Flatten the ball of dough very slightly with the palm of your hand and loosely cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 25-30 mins until doubled in size. Brush the top of the dough with a little water, then sprinkle with the sea salt and bake for 40 mins until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.