Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Chinese: Asam Koh
Thai: Mak Kham
Tamarind tree commonly called the "date of India", is believed to be a native of East Africa. But is now cultivated in India, South-east Asia and the West Indies.
The brown fruit pods are 15-20 cm long. Inside, the seeds are surrounded by a sticky brown pulp, This does not look very prepossessing but is one of the treasures of the East. It has a high tartaric acid content, and is widely used as a souring agent.
Tamarind is used in many Thai dished to give a characteristic sour, tangy flavour. Preparing
fresh tamarind pods for cooking is a laborious process. The Thais usually use compressed blocks of tamarind paste, which is simply soaked in warm water and then strained.
You can get tamarind paste in every Asian stores.
Stir-fried Prawn with Tamarind
2 tbsp tamarind
150ml boiling water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
1 - 2 fresh chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable, chicken stock or water
450g raw shelled prawns
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp of fried sliced shallots (this for garnish, optional)
Spring onion for garnish (optional)
Put the tamarind in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and stir well to break up any lumps. Leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok, add the chopped onion and stir-fry until golden brown.
Strain the tamarind juice, pushing as much of the juice through as possible. Measure 6 tbsp of the juice. Add to the wok along with the sugar, stock (or water), fish sauce and dried chillies. Stir well until the sugar dissolves.
Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then add the prawns and garlic, and stir-fry about 3-4 minutes, or until the prawns are cooked. Sprinkle over the fried shallots and spring onions and serve immediately. Perfect with steamed white rice. Enjoy!