Well, what's for dinner tonight was not for the faint-hearted who dislike spicy food, nor was it for the 'faint-nosed' because this is Sambal Petai with Tempeh in all its spicy-ness and stinky-ness!
Petai beans are definitely something of an acquired taste...and smell (just like the King of Southeast Asian fruits called Durian). Highly popular in Southeast Asia, the beans are contained in long, flat green pods with bulging bumps in the shape of small almonds. Petai has a really peculiar smell that is dispelled through the urine (so, make sure the flush works!). As such, it is also nicknamed as 'stinky beans'. Petai is said to contain 3 types of natural sugar - sucrose, fructose and glucose. It is also believed to be carrying many beneficial medicinal values from regulating blood pressure to curing a hangover with a glass of petai milkshake (err, anyone up to this challenge?!).
petai beans. Peel off the white skin and split open the petai to spot for any cute tiny little worms in suspicious-looking beans.
Tempeh is essentially fermented soy bean cake that originates from Indonesia (where it has been a staple food & source of protein for hundreds of years) and is widely cooked and loved by Malaysians and Singaporeans alike, especially in Malay households & food stalls. Tempeh can be easily found in many supermarkets these days. Many also prepare homemade tempeh as it is easy and cheap. Dehulled soy beans need to be soaked overnight, cooked and ferment with tempeh starter, which is a dried mixture of live Rhizopus spores. Just like how one would need the desired lactobacillus and streptococcus bacteria to make yoghurt, the similar concept applies to tempeh which needs its desired 'agent'. Whoever created tempeh was really clever. If you can see from the pic below, the whitish surface has a really unique texture. It is not anything like a wet batter at all. It is slightly damp & with cotton-like texture. As gross as it may sound, it is just like the outer layer of a caterpillar coccoon as I imagined. Too much details? Don't worry, it's completely hygienic, healthy & delicious. Tempeh is highly suitable for vegetarians & vegans.
tempeh are wrapped in a certain type of leave where fermentation process takes place. Fry the tempeh till golden brown and slice it.
Now, get ready for the spicy, stinky, delicious Sambal Petai with Tempeh.
For the Sambal paste (grind all together):
100 g shallots
20 g dried chillies (soak in boiling hot water for 15 mins)
1 inch belacan (Asian shrimp paste)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
To cook my Sambal Petai with Tempeh, you need:
1 small bowl sambal paste (as above)
30 g ikan bilis (baby anchovies), fry with oil till golden brown & drain on paper towel
100 g prawns, deshelled
5-6 tbsp tamarind paste juice or 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
3-4 pods of petai beans, skinned and split
1-2 pieces tempeh, fry till golden brown and slice
Heat 5-7 tbsp oil in a wok/frying pan. When it's hot, put in the grounded sambal paste and saute till the paste emanates a fragrant smell and somewhat drier than before. Pour in the tamarind/lemon juice, sugar and salt. You can add some water if you prefer a slightly wetter sambal. Put in the prawns, petai and tempeh all together. Stir and cook for 3-5 mins. Turn off the fire, leave the sambal to cool for about 10 mins, then mix in the fried anchovies. Stir well and serve with plain rice, coconut milk rice (nasi lemak) or bread.