Known as sator in Thai, stink bean is the unfortunate English-language name of this podlike vegetable:
The “beans” are actually the large seeds found in the pod, and must be extracted and peeled beforehand. In Thailand, stink bean is mostly associated with southern Thai cooking, where it is eaten raw with dips, used in stir fries and even pickled. The name, although unnecessarily derogatory, is not all that innaccurate, as stink bean is probably one of the most pungent foods around.
Despite all this, I like it (as do many, many people in southern Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia), and find the flavor similar to an intense, but less biting, garlic. If you can get your hands on it, one of the easiest ways to prepare stink bean is this simple stir fry with some shrimp paste and seafood. I use squid in the recipe below, although you can replace this with shrimp or even pork if you like.
Squid Fried with Stink Bean
(Serves 2 as part of a southern Thai meal)
Cooking oil 3 Tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves
Shrimp paste 1 Tbsp
Onion 1/4, sliced thinly
‘Banana chili’ 2, sliced thinly
Water 1/4 cup
Halved stink beans 50 g
Fish sauce 1 Tbsp, or to taste
Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor grind garlic and shrimp paste together into a rough paste. Set aside.
Wash and slice squid into 1″ wide rings. Set aside.
In a wok over medium-high heat, heat cooking oil and add shrimp paste mixture. Stirring constantly, fry until fragrant, about two minutes. Add onions and and chili, fry briefly, and add most of the water. Allow mixture to simmer and reduce, stirring constantly, until it reaches a gravy-like consistency. Increase heat to high and add stink beans and squid, stirring constantly. Add fish sauce to taste and saute until squid is cooked, about two minutes.
Serve hot with rice and try to avoid talking to other people for at least three hours.