Friday, June 3, 2011

Petai Belalang Sambal Belacan - Experimental Cooking

Petai belalang is  the name the local Malays call Leucaena leucocephala.  Wikipedia says that the Indonesians call it petai cina or lamtoro, while the Thais call it krathin

Petai belalang is definitely edible.  The taste is almost similar to petai ( Parkia speciosa ), only smaller in size. 

However, petai belalang is said to contained mimosine, a toxic non-protein acid amino.  Mimosine is reported to halt diving cell in the late G1 phase by inhibiting DNA replication. ( meaning what ? )  Mimosine is also said to caused lathyrism and depilation in some livestock.  However, fortunately for ruminants, mimosine is degraged to 3,4-DHP and 2,3-DHP, then further digested to non-toxic compound.

So,  it is not advisable to consume a large quantity of petai belalang.   Yet, if someone is lost in a tropical jungle or some inhabited island, I guess there are not much choice after all.   Unless there are a lot of mangoes and coconuts available.   Btw, I remember seeing Jack ( the main character in LOST, an American serial drama tv series on ABC ), in one of the final episode of Season 6,  standing by a thicket of petai belalang … do they ever know that its edible ?  

Some 10 immature pods of petai belalang only yield to a few spoonful of edible seeds.  The pods are dehiscent, meaning they will crack-opened when dried.  Immature pods are harder to open, but I soon discovered an easy way to extract the seeds : peel open from the rear end of the pod.  Easy eh ?!

I stir fried them with belacan and pounded Sarawak smoked prawns, just as a petai belacan dish would be.  The taste is less pungent than petai, more tender, less mouthful, yet still have some bitter aftertaste.


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