Sambal Petai with Fried Ikan Bilis (Sambal Stink Bean with Fried Anchovies)

Sambal Petai with Fried Ikan Bilis (Sambal Stink Bean with Fried Anchovies)

I never expected to find petai (a.k.a. stink beans, smelly beans, broad beans, bitter beans) here in Canada. It’s a delicacy widely consumed in some parts of Southeast Asia, mainly Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s a challenge to even find it in Singapore. Hence, when I found these little gems at a supermarket in Surrey, I just had to buy them. So here’s the best part of my dinner (and I’m sharing the best way to prepare it) – Sambal Petai with Fried Ikan Bilis (or Sambal Stink Bean with Fried Anchovies).

My mother first introduced me to petai when I was seventeen. I didn’t like it at all. It reeked of methane and had this awful, bitter taste. Even after digesting the beans, the smell would just make a comeback in a similar fashion to asparagus: in your pee.

I know I’m not making petai sound the least bit appetizing to you right now, but trust me – it grows on you. It did for me. I started enjoying petai a lot more after discovering differnet ways to consume it, like sambal petai. If this is your first time eating petai, I am confident my sambal petai recipe will help you appreciate it.

If you’re not a big fan of bitter-tasting foods, I’d like to leave you with a very useful piece of advice: when shopping for petai, choose beans that are smaller in size (they are less bitter), wash and split the petai apart, and remove the tiny circular knob inside. That tiny circular knob is the crux of bitterness. Removing it will make your petai three times less bitter.

If you’re not already a fan of petai, I truly hope this sambal recipe will make you one. Enjoy.

Sambal Petai with Fried Ikan Bilis (Sambal Stink Bean with Fried Anchovies)
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Sambal Petai with Fried Ikan Bilis (Sambal Stink Bean with Fried Anchovies) is simply delicious. The saltiness and fragrance from the fried ikan billis and sambal complements the charred sugar bits in this dish. It's a divine combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and a tinge of bitterness from the stink beans.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 2 people
  • About 20-25 petai/stink beans washed and split
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 6-8 large dried ikan bilis/anchovies
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sambal paste
  • A sprinkle of salt to taste
  1. Wash, dry, and split the petai in half. Remove the tiny circular knob to get rid of the bitter taste. Set petai aside.

  2. In a heated skillet, add canola oil. Once the oil is hot, throw in the ikan bilis and stir-fry quickly. Once the ikan bilis start to crisp, add sugar and combine for 5-10 seconds before removing the ikan bilis and charred sugar bits from the skillet.

  3. Keep the skillet hot (but not smoking), then spoon the sambal paste into the skillet and quickly fry it, using the spatula to spread the sambal paste around the skillet. Do this for about 10-20 seconds.

  4. When the sambal starts to smell fragrant, add the petai/stink beans into the skillet. Stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until desired done-ness for the beans. I like my beans crunchy so I try not to leave it in the pan too long.

  5. Finally, just when you are about to plate the dish, pour in the crispy ikan bilis (with charred sugar bits) back into the skillet. Quickly combine it with the petai beans and add some salt to taste. Turn the heat off and plate. Enjoy it hot.


Are you a fan of spicy food? So am I! Check out more spicy recipes:

Cold Tofu with Spicy Bean Paste

Kimchi Pancake from Leftover Kimchi


Jesslyn is an experimental individual who loves to get hands-on for anything she’s passionate about. She's a marketer and web developer by day. She’s also an animal lover and coffee aficionado.

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