Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Recipe #25: Stink bean spaghetti


Without a doubt my favourite vegetable, some say stink bean (petai) is an acquired taste. I think I was just born with a natural liking for it... Nothing "acquired" about that. It has a rich, almost opulently aromatic flavour and, because it is rarely fully-cooked, a lovely crunchy yet silky texture. It is known to have many health benefits; it is a natural anti-oxidant and it also has antihistamine properties, something which I appreciated from an early age, as it would relieve my sinus allergies.

This recipe would probably sound better if called, "spaghetti with petai and pork in home-made sambal belacan"; alas, it wouldn't seem as weird.

Ingredients
  • Stink bean, preferably fresh, removed from pods and halved
  • Belacan (fermented prawn paste)
  • Chili
  • Minced pork
  • Garlic
  • White onion
  • Black pepper
  • Sea-salt
  • Spaghetti (thin)
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley

Preparation
Slice a small quantity of belacan into thin pieces and grill until dry. Make sure your kitchen is very well-ventilated (you'll find out why if you don't already know).
Place grilled belacan pieces into a mortar with coarsely-chopped fresh chili and garlic. Pound with a pestle until a think paste is achieved. I prefer to have coarse chunks of chili although if a finer consistency is preferred, pound longer or mix in a blender (the problem with that is that you'll need another blender for fruits/vegetables as this blender would be quite permanently infused with belacan).
Sauté (additional) chopped chili, garlic and onions in olive oil in a large fry-pan.
Add minced pork and stir-fry until it is cooked.
Sprinkle sea-salt and black pepper to taste.
Toss in belacan chili paste and mix in thoroughly, followed by stink beans. Don't overcook them.
In a saucepan, boil water and cook the spaghetti, then drain and place on serving dish.
Top spaghetti with stink bean/ pork belacan chili paste.
Alternatively, you may toss spaghetti into fry-pan and very briefly stir-fry with stink beans and minced pork.
Garnish with fresh parsley.

Complement with a full-bodied, oaky Chardonnay (a strong Napa Valley white comes to mind).

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