Friday, February 25, 2011


Stink me in the day
Or stink me in the night
I don’t mind you stinking me
As long as you stink me right

Petai (
Parkia speciosa), or stink beans is an acquired taste. Hate it or love it. It’s odd that we South East Asians love stinky fruits. Durian and petai. Although petai is eaten like a veggie, but it’s a fruit from the Petai tree, just like any other beans.

If you haven’t seen a petai tree, let me tell you it’s HUGE!!!! I’ve seen one at my student’s house back in
Selancar and it’s HUMONGOUS!! Taller than the house, it’s even taller than a durian tree. No wonder it’s so expensive, takes a lot of effort to pluck these precious stinkies.

If you’ve never heard or eaten this before… taste wise, it’s slightly bitter and pungent. But it’s the washroom experience that irks the non eaters. If one has eaten petai, the person doesn’t need to tell you. If you entered after this person came out, please hold your breath!!!
If eating asparagus gives you stinky urine, think of this 10X worse. The smell is similiar but haha, much much stronger.

Despite the bad washroom results, why do people still want to eat this? Read the lengthy reasons to know why.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND among people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating petai. This is because petai contains tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS (premenstrual syndrome):
Forget the pills - eat petai. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

High in iron, petai can stimulate the production of haemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anaemia.

Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the petai industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating petai at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

High in fiber, including petai in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a petai milkshake, sweetened with honey. The petai calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Petai has a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating petai for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on petai between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of the petai skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Petai is high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Petai is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:
Many other cultures see petai as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Holland, for example, pregnant women eat petai to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Petai can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer, tryptophan.

Petai can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium petai snack.

According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine, " eating petai as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%".

Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of petai and place it on the wart. Carefully hold the petai in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, as you can see, petai really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has 4x the protein, 2x the carbohydrates, 3x the phosphorus, 5x the vitamin A and iron, and 2x the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A Petai a day keeps the doctor away".

According to:
PM Dr.Aminuddin AHK Dept.of Physiology
Medical faculty of UKM Kuala Lumpur

There are 2 types of petai regularly seen sold. Petai Papan and Petai Padi. How to differentiate?
Petai Papan is bigger, flatter and and tastes slightly harder than Petai Padi.
Petai Padi is smaller, has a taller hump and gives a lighter crunch than Petai Papan.

I personally prefer petai padi, but it’s harder to get in peeled form. Petai padi usually comes unpeeled, sold by Malay or aboriginal vendors. I bought mine this time RM2 for a bunch of 5 long pods and I bought 3 bunches to peel them myself.

Kitchen tip: Some people find that peeled petai bought from wet markets tend to smell “green”. I was told that it is because the beans were soaked in water to increase its weight. And even rinsing the beans won’t make it taste good. So, after peeling, do not wash, and let it be exposed to air overnight. This way, the eating experience is nicer. It produces a nice stinky bean that is not too stinky on the nose, and is pliable and crunchy.

Usually people will cook petai with fiery sambal (chilli spice paste), but today I’m doing it slightly different, by using much less chilli and using a lot of minced meat. My FIL has to cut down on spicy food, so I changed the regular petai cooking method to this.

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