Have you ever wondered what it is that makes Pad Thai so irresistible...besides its peanut-y goodness? It's Tamarind. Making your own tamarind paste is simple and inexpensive. Once you discover the wonderful flavour of tamarind you will be putting it in everything!
What is tamarind?
The tamarind tree produces pod-like fruit that has a brown, edible pulp inside with seeds. It's used in many cuisines around the world. Like nature's sour candy, it's both sweet, sour, and tangy and imparts zingy undertones to anything you add it to. It's an essential ingredient in Pad Thai sauce and is also used in many other curries, sauces, desserts, and drinks in Africa, South America, Mexico, The Caribbean, and South Asia. It's even an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce!
Why make tamarind paste?
Although you can buy tamarind paste or concentrate in jars (found in specialty Asian and Indian shops) making your own produces a fresher taste. You can have great results with the store-bought paste or concentrate, not to mention the convenience, but it's also harder to come by than the blocks of compressed pulp and not as fresh tasting. If you can't find compressed tamarind in the store you can order this one (affiliate link).
How long will it last?
Tamarind paste has a long shelf life. In the fridge, it will last 4-5 weeks and in the freezer for many months. Freeze in ice cube trays for convenience, one tablespoon portions to use in sauces, stews, marinades, etc.
How to make tamarind paste from a block of pulp
- Remove pulp from package, break up into pieces and place in a bowl with enough room to add water.
- Pour over 2 cups boiling water.
- Mash it with a spoon.
- Let soak for 20 minutes.
- Press it through a colander until only the fibers remain behind. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the colander from time to time. Discard the fibers and keep the smooth paste
- Yields approximately 2 cups of tamarind paste.
Recipes That Use Tamarind Paste
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- 1 16 oz block Tamarind pulp, seedless
- 2 cups boiling water
- Break up the block of tamarind and place in a bowl.
- Pour boiling water over tamarind, smash up a bit with a spoon and let soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Place in a colander and push pulp through with a spatula or spoon, scraping the bottom of the colander from time to time, until only the fibers remain and you have about 2 cups of thick tamarind paste.
- Store in glass or plastic containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Freeze in containers or ice cube trays for 6 months.