I am taking the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite home cook dishes while my mum is visiting us from Malaysia.. This is a dish I requested from Mum to cook for lunch today. It is a dish of stir-fried dried anchovies, onions and 'Petai'. Petai is a kind of seed or bean that is bitter and have a very strong aroma, which makes this unusual delicacy an acquired taste. It is popular in South East Asia and North-eastern India. This beans are only available fresh in the SE Asia region, it is harvested from stringy twisted seed-pod on a tall tropical tree. They are available in Melbourne in small can, preserved in brine.
1 can (170g) Petai drained - use fresh beans where available
60g Dried anchovies (Ikan bilis)
1 Red chilli, sliced
4 tbsp of cooking oil
3 Big onions sliced
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Black soy sauce
- Heat the oil in the pan. Fry the dried anchovies.
- Remove and set aside the fried anchovies, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Stir fry the sliced onions and chili in the pan
- Next put the petai to fry with the onions.
- Dissolve the sugar in the soy sauce, and pour and stir in the pan.
- Lastly, shut the flame off and stir in the fried anchovies.
- Taking care not to overfried the anchovies, as with any food it can impart a unpleasant bitter burnt flavour. Remember to control the heat when anchovies are about to be brown.
- Optionally add a teaspoon of thick sweet black soy sauce ('Kicap manis') for colour
- Do not brown onions until it caramelised as in Western cooking, preferable onions have a little bit of rawness.
- Keep fried anchovies slightly crispy when stirred into the onions and petai to maintain contrasting texture. So drop the when you mix the crispy fried anchovies in.