Stink Bean: Top Ten Facebook Photo
Can you smell that? Stink bean, called sator in Thai – สะตอ – is also known as Parkia or Petai. It is a flat edible bean that is large, but dense in texture. Whether fresh or cooked, it has a taste and aroma similar to asparagus, but 3 to 5 times more powerful. You may never have heard of it or seen it before. Sator looks a like a large fava bean but is found on a large tree that only grows in southern Thailand, the neighboring countries south of Thailand, and near the equator. At home in Thailand, I have 55 Sator trees in various stages of development. It happens to be a native plant that survives on hilly mountains and thrives side by side with my durian tree. A perfect pair, stinky fruits and stink bean.
The scientific term for sator is Parkia speciosa. One cluster has from 3 to 15 pods and each pod can have 6 to 16 beans. Sator, like asparagus, has an amino acid that is responsible for the noticeable smell. Southerners, like my family and friends, are delighted when the short sator season finally arrives and they prepare and share sator dishes and photos. Below is a picture my niece posted on Facebook on May 30th; many of my friends and other chefs from Thailand did the same. Perhaps the famous smell of this rare edible bean is precious for those who value its deliciousness and take culinary pride in this special bean.
One of many food photos of a stink bean dish. This is one my niece posted on Facebook. The dish was prepared by my sister Rudee. It is a one dish meal of Stir-fried Spicy Stink Beans with Prawns served over steamed jasmine rice.
The middle of May is the beginning of sator season in southern Thailand. As the bean starts to make its appearance, sator fans get so excited. The most famous stink bean dish of all is Phad Phed Sator Goong – Stir-fried Sator with Prawns.
Sator, สะตอ, grows wild in Phuket, a twisted cluster bean that grows on a tall tree, often side by side with durian.
It is an honor to once again present you with a local dish cooked by a local home cook, my friend Varunee who also teaches southern cooking on my culinary tour. Varunee will present you with Phad Phed Sator Phuket – Stir-fried Spicy Stink Bean with Prawns, Phuket Style. This is the way my mom and her mom and the local people in Phuket would cook it in their kitchens for family and friends. Please feel free to modify the recipe to suit your liking. There is no substitute for sator, however you can enjoy this recipe with any seafood or with other vegetables such as asparagus, fava beans or edamame for a similar texture.
Stir-fried Spicy Stink Beans with Prawns, Phuket Style
Phad Phed Sator Goong Phuket
Serves: 43 tablespoons vegetable oil 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons Phuket red curry paste, or any brand from Thailand 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, optional (omit it if you use Mae Ploy Brand red curry paste) 8 prawns, shelled and deveined 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar 1/2 cup Sator or Parkia beans, fresh or frozen 3 Kaffir lime leaves, center vein removed
Heat a wok on high heat until it is hot, pour in vegetable oil and then stir in garlic, curry paste and shrimp paste. Stir well until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in prawns and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in water. Stir well until curry paste and oil are well-combined and prawns are cooked well in the sauce. Stir in soy sauce. Stir in palm sugar until well-combined.
Fold the Kaffir lime leaves lengthwise, remove the vein, then add the leaves to the wok. Stir in sator. Stir back and forth until the sator is partially cooked. Be careful not to overcook the prawns or the sator, which doesn’t need to be cooked very long. A shorter time is better for sator to keep its crunchy texture. Remove Kaffir leaves. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.
Please see instructions and photos below for cooking step by step.
My friend Varunee will show you how to prepare a famous Phuket dish Phad Phed Sator Goong, Stir-fried Spicy Stink Beans and Prawns, Phuket Style. Please enjoy her cooking.
In Phuket there are two kinds of red curry paste. One is for coconut-based curry and one is for stir-fries without coconut milk or with very little—just about 2 to 4 tablespoons coconut milk to make the sauce or to tone down the spicy level of the dish. Please do not be overly concerned with this level of complication, use Mae Ploy or Thai kitchen brands as you wish. For the best results, I recommend my Phuket Red Curry Paste Recipe.
Heat a wok on high heat until it is hot, pour in vegetable oil and then stir in garlic, curry paste and shrimp paste.
Stir in prawns and stir for 30 seconds.
Then pour in water and stir well until curry paste and oil are well-combined, making a good sauce, and the prawns are cooked well.
Stir in soy sauce.
Stir in palm sugar until well-combined.
Fold the Kaffir lime leaves, remove the veins, then add the leaves to the wok.
Stir in sator.
Stir back and forth until the prawns are cooked and sator is partially cooked. Be careful not to overcook the prawns or sator. A shorter time allows sator to keep its crunchy texture.
Credit: Khun Varunee© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com