The Petai bean is one of the most treasured and unique ingredients of Indonesian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Whether stir-fried, stewed, boiled, grilled, or eaten raw, the petai bean is found in many dishes of India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Somewhat reminiscent of a lima bean, its taste is rather distinctive. The best way to describe the taste of Petai is to say that it has strong raw garlic undertones and a very bitter aftertaste.
But its taste, my dear readers, is not the most unique characteristic of the petai bean. You see, a common local name for petai is “stink bean”, for the pungent, penetrating, and long-lasting sulfurous smell it gives off.
Eating, cooking, or simply handling the petai beans will leave your home, clothes, hands, breath, and even your urine smelling like a lingering wet smelly fart.
The fact that its culinary use is so widespread throughout the Southeast Asian continent is a testament to its exotic flavor and healthy nutritional qualities.
Don’t fret, though. People who regularly cook petai beans have come up with various ways to minimize and mostly neutralize the objectionable smell.
So how do you deal with this downside? How do you get rid of the bad petai smell?
9 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Petai Smell
Another treasured ingredient of Southeast Asian cuisine, the pandan leaf, can be one of your best allies when cooking petai beans.
The highly fragrant Pandan plant is mainly used as a thickening agent or flavor enhancer; however, pandan leaves can also be used as a natural air freshener.
When the fresh leaves are stored in a tightly packed bunch or knot, they gradually give off a nice sweet aromatic smell that can eventually lessen the more offensive and pungent smell of petai.
Freshly brewed coffee is one of the most aromatic substances known to man, and it can certainly help you get rid of the smell of petai beans. Moreover, you won’t have to brew a fresh batch every time you handle or cook stinky petai beans.
You can take some used coffee grounds and repurpose them as an effective deodorizer.
You can either place a small bowl full of fresh coffee grounds near the kitchen as you cook petai beans, or take some old coffee grounds and toast them in the oven for a few minutes to get a blast of aromatic coffee aroma.
Additionally, you can take some coffee grounds and rub your hands before washing them with soap. The aromatic oils in the coffee will help you remove the stinky bean smell from your fingers.
Much like coffee grounds, baking soda is a powerful deodorizer. Placing a bowl of baking soda inside the fridge where you store your petai beans will significantly reduce their smell and prevent them from overpowering the odors of other foods stored alongside them.
Having some baking soda on a plate next to the stove can also help to suck out the offending odor from the air as you cook.
You can also add some baking soda to your wash when you launder the clothes you wore during your petai cooking session.
Rinse Your Mouth With Lemon Juice
Without a doubt, one of the most unfortunate side effects of eating petai beans is the characteristic sulfurous, fart-like smell that lingers on your breath. If you’ve ever eaten petai beans before, you know what I’m talking about.
You almost get used to the look of shock and apprehension that springs to people’s faces when they come near enough to smell your petai breath.
So, after you are done eating, take some lemon juice or lime juice and dilute it in a glass of water. Use this lemon water to rinse out your mouth. The acidic nature of the lemon will help to break down the sulfur and nitrate byproducts that are found within the beans.
After you rinse your mouth out with lemon water, finish off by swishing some mouthwash in your mouth. Make sure that you gargle during rinsing to get any lingering petai smell from deeper down your throat.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Much like the dreaded asparagus pee smell, your urine after eating stinky petai beans will have a highly unpleasant odor. This phenomenon lasts upwards of two days after eating the beans, so unless you take action you will be stuck urinating a funky-smelling pee.
Unfortunately, this is a natural side effect of your body breaking down sulfurous compounds of the petai beans. This means that you can’t really prevent stinky petai urine.
However, if you make sure to drink plenty of fluids after eating the beans, you will easily dilute your urine and this will greatly reduce the smell it gives off.
Cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and pineapple juice are fantastic diuretics that will make you pee more often. If you combine this with an increased water intake, your pee will smell much better.
Cook With Aromatic Spices
Southeast Asians have been cooking petai beans for a very long time, as such, they have come up with a plethora of ways to prepare the beans.
Petai beans can be stir-fried, stewed, boiled, roasted, or prepared in a number of other methods. However, the trick is almost always to use very strong flavors and other pungent aromatic ingredients.
For example, petai is often cooked in a belacan sauce, which is made out of a fragrant shrimp paste. Curry is another common staple of petai dishes. Most petai bean recipes will call for tons of garlic, chili powder, coriander, shallots, chives, ginger, turmeric, star anise, etc.
The more fragrant the ingredients you use to cook alongside your petai beans, the less odorous they will seem to be.
Blanche Your Beans Before Cooking
Whatever method you choose to prepare your petai beans, blanching them before cooking them will go a long way to minimize the stink they will produce.
To do so, boil water and salt copiously, then drop your beans into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then remove them from the fire, before rinsing them thoroughly in ice water to stop the cooking process. Afterward, make sure to drain the beans completely to reduce the fart-like petai smell.
Often, washing with regular hand soap will not be sufficient to get rid of the petai smell from your fingers. One surprising trick used by the people of Southeast Asia is to use cucumbers.
After washing with regular hand soap, take some fresh cucumber slices and rub them all over your hands and fingers, making sure to get some underneath your fingernails. Let the juices from the cucumber sit on your hands for a couple of minutes, before rinsing and washing with soap one more time.
Finally, the last and most obvious method to get rid of the petai smell is to create good airflow by promoting ventilation.
You can easily do this by opening all windows of your home and placing fans near them. This will create a clear passage for the stinky air to flow out of your home and be replaced by fresh, clean air.