Comfort Cooking

Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Petai and salted fried fish rice

At a loss as to what to cook tonight? Fret not. In this daily series, STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo features nourishing recipes you can whip up during the circuit breaker month


When it comes to petai, you either love it or hate it. Colloquially called stink bean, the petai bean (parkia speciosa) is so pungent, those who do not like it may even find it offensive to be near those who eat it.

With the circuit breaker period, this is the best time to cook this dish and enjoy it in the privacy of your own home, unless your family or housemates hate it. If they protest, you could try convincing them to give it a try.

Petai has a bitter edge and is an acquired taste. Its characteristic flavour is due to cyclic polysulphides, one of the bean's major compounds.

At some eateries where I have had this dish, the petai sometimes turn out a little too raw and hard for my liking.

Some people like it that way; not me though - I prefer the petai beans to be a little more tender. For my version of petai fried rice, I blanch the beans.

Some petai lovers may be outraged at this but, well, one of the perks of home cooking is that you get to adjust the taste and texture of a dish to your liking.

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2 rice cups of raw long-grain rice (280g)

250ml water (for rice)

1½ litres water (for petai beans)

2½ tsp salt

300g petai, each bean split in half

6 Tbs cooking oil

50g raw ikan bilis

70g raw salted fish, cut into 3cm by 2cm pieces

2 red onions (260g), sectioned

5 garlic cloves (30g), chopped

3 eggs (55g each), beaten

3 Tbs dried chilli paste

2 tsp belacan powder 1 tsp turmeric powder 1½ tsp sugar


1. Place the rice and 250ml of water in a rice cooker and cook. Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the cooker and allow it to cool to room temperature.

2. Bring 1½ litres of water to a boil and add 1 tsp of salt.

3. Add the petai into the boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Remove from the water and drain excess water.

4. Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a frying pan. Place the ikan bilis in the pan and fry for five minutes over medium heat until the ikan bilis is crispy. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper to drain excess oil.

5. Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a frying pan. Place the salted fish in the pan and fry for three minutes over medium heat until browned. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper to drain excess oil.

6. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of oil and, over medium heat, fry the onions for one minute. Add the garlic and fry for 45 seconds.

7. Add the beaten eggs. Fry for 30 seconds until the eggs are half-cooked, add the chilli paste and fry for one minute.

8. Add the petai and rice, and use the spatula to break up the chunks of rice.

9. Add the belacan powder and turmeric powder.

10. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Season with 1½ tsp of salt and the sugar.

11. Stir-fry for another minute. Turn off the heat.

12. Garnish with the fried ikan bilis and salted fish. Serve immediately.

Serves five to six

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2020, with the headline Comfort Cooking: Stinky petai in rice so nice . Subscribe