Cook's Nook

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A taste of tamarind

Assam fish curry. Photos: C. JASON

Assam fish curry. Photos: C. JASON

Tamarind adds a tangy, piquant lift to many dishes to whet the appetite.


500g fish (garoupa)
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp oil
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
2 stalks polygonum/laksa leaves (daun kesom)
50g tamarind paste, mixed with
500ml water, strained to get tamarind juice
1 slice dried tamarind apple (asam keping)
1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, peeled, halved and sliced
1 wild ginger bud (bunga kantan), finely sliced
1 sprig mint leaves

Spices (finely ground)
8 dried chillies, soaked to soften, seeded
6 red chillies, seeded
10 shallots, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2cm knob fresh turmeric, sliced
1/2 tsp dried shrimp paste (belacan)
1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp chicken stock powder
salt and sugar to taste

Cut the fish into 3 thick slices and season with salt. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Fry lemongrass and polygonum for 10-20 seconds. Add ground spice ingredients and fry over medium-low heat until fragrant.

Add tamarind juice and bring to the boil. Add tamarind apple, pineapple, tomato and onion.

Add the fish slices and season to taste. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until fish is cooked.

Add a sprinkling of wild ginger bud and mint leaves. Dish out and serve hot with rice.

Prawns in special tamarind sauce


500g large tiger prawns
90g tamarind paste mixed with
150ml water, strained to get tamarind juice
1 tbsp oil, and more as needed
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine

3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp chicken stock powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Aromatic garnish
5 dried chillies, cut into sections, seeded
1 stalk curry leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced finely
45g onion, cubed
45g red capsicum, cubed
45g green capsicum, cubed

Trim prawn feelers and legs and keep the shell on.

Mix tamarind juice with seasoning. Add the prawns and toss well.

Heat oil and sesame oil in a wok until hot. Stir-fry the aromatic garnish briefly until aromatic. Dish out and set aside.

Add a little more oil in the wok and stir-fry the marinated prawns briskly over high heat. Cover the wok, lower heat, and allow the prawns to simmer in the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the prawns are fairly cooked.

Sprinkle in rice wine. Toss and fry briskly until sauce is fairly thick. Add in the prefried aromatic garnish. Mix well and dish out.

Braised sweet and tangy chicken


500g chicken, chopped into fairly large pieces
1 tbsp tapioca flour
20g ginger, sliced
2 shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
80-90g palm sugar (gula Melaka)
50g tamarind paste, mixed with
350ml water, strained to get tamarind juice
1 tbsp shrimp paste (hae koe)
2 stalks spring onion, cut

1 tbsp ginger juice
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper

chopped spring onion
finely sliced young ginger

Season chicken with the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Just before frying, add the tapioca flour. Mix well.

Deep-fry chicken in hot oil for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Remove all but 1-2 teaspoons of the oil in the wok. Over medium heat, stir-fry the ginger, shallots and garlic until fragrant.

Return chicken to the wok. Add the palm sugar and seasoning, then fry briefly until sugar has dissolved.

Add in tamarind juice and shrimp paste. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, add in spring onion and simmer over medium-low heat until meat is tender, gravy is reduced, and sauce is fairly thick. Garnish and serve.

Tags / Keywords: Amy Beh , tamarind , assam fish curry , tamarind prawn , chicken , Cooks Nook

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