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Tamarind Paste


mame11
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I just made the world's worst dinner. I know there's not a lot of competition on this board for that title so I'll take it... I was trying to make Pad Thai from How To Cook Everything. It took me time to find the Fish Sauce required and longer to find the Tamarind Paste. I was so excited to make this dish as it has become a comfort food for me.

Though M. Bittman says you can substitute ketchup for tamarind, I was determined to make it with tamarind.

I followed the instructions per the recipe but did not fully do my mise en place but did lay out all the ingredients. When I went to open the tamarind paste I was like "huh? are those almonds in the paste? How do i get the paste off those little almonds?" I tried to pull it off but to no avail. I resorted to ketchup.

wow was that a plate of gross and bland. For the first time ever I dumped my meal.

I don't want to dump the tamarind paste if y'all can tell me what to do with it in the future. Did I even buy tamarind paste?

(for the record I found tamarind paste at the Japanese market on U St.)

thanks in advance for your opinions and advice....

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You got me curious. It's been a long time since I worked with the stuff, so I consulted an old Thai cookbook, which explains that it's pulp from a seedpod. You soak a lump of it in warm water for 5 minutes, then work it until everything is dissolved that can be dissolved, then strain out and discard what's left. The author also suggests substituting lemon, lime, grapefruit, or rice vinegar. Hope that helps.

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It sounds like you bought the paste that still has seeds in it. Did it look sort of like a weird flat slice of cake? For this type of paste you have to soak it in hot/boiling water, then pull it apart and get the mushy brown yummy tamarind out.

Oops! Too slow!

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You got me curious. It's been a long time since I worked with the stuff, so I consulted an old Thai cookbook, which explains that it's pulp from a seedpod. You soak a lump of it in warm water for 5 minutes, then work it until everything is dissolved that can be dissolved, then strain out and discard what's left. The author also suggests substituting lemon, lime, grapefruit, or rice vinegar. Hope that helps.

Wow! Um... speechless. Thank you so much for looking it up for me. Humbling...

I guess I was expecting something like tomato paste.

Thanks!

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I just made the world's worst dinner. I know there's not a lot of competition on this board for that title so I'll take it... I was trying to make Pad Thai from How To Cook Everything. It took me time to find the Fish Sauce required and longer to find the Tamarind Paste. I was so excited to make this dish as it has become a comfort food for me.

Though M. Bittman says you can substitute ketchup for tamarind, I was determined to make it with tamarind.

I followed the instructions per the recipe but did not fully do my mise en place but did lay out all the ingredients. When I went to open the tamarind paste I was like "huh? are those almonds in the paste? How do i get the paste off those little almonds?" I tried to pull it off but to no avail. I resorted to ketchup.

wow was that a plate of gross and bland. For the first time ever I dumped my meal.

I don't want to dump the tamarind paste if y'all can tell me what to do with it in the future. Did I even buy tamarind paste?

(for the record I found tamarind paste at the Japanese market on U St.)

thanks in advance for your opinions and advice....

It sounds to me that what you bought was actually a solid block of tamarind pulp and those 'almonds' are actually the tamarind seeds. Commercial tamarind paste or concentrate comes in a jar and looks something like apple butter, but the taste is nothing like that -- it's more like prunes with lime juice. You can make use of the tamarind block to make tamarind liquid which you can use for your pad thai. What I do is take about 1/2 of a 14-oz block of tamarind and add 2.5 cups of hot water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then I use my fingers to squeeze the block like a sponge until the pulp separates from the seeds and dissolves in the water. I then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the undissolved pulp and seeds. The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. If you prefer to buy tamarind concentrate, I find that Asian Best's Concentrated Cooking Tamarind that I buy at Maxim's in Rockville is the best of the 4 brands I've tried.

One thing I'm certain of: Ketchup is NO substitute for tamarind! I'm stunned that Bittman would suggest that.

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It sounds to me that what you bought was actually a solid block of tamarind pulp and those 'almonds' are actually the tamarind seeds. Commercial tamarind paste or concentrate comes in a jar and looks something like apple butter, but the taste is nothing like that -- it's more like prunes with lime juice. You can make use of the tamarind block to make tamarind liquid which you can use for your pad thai. What I do is take about 1/2 of a 14-oz block of tamarind and add 2.5 cups of hot water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then I use my fingers to squeeze the block like a sponge until the pulp separates from the seeds and dissolves in the water. I then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the undissolved pulp and seeds. The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. If you prefer to buy tamarind concentrate, I find that Asian Best's Concentrated Cooking Tamarind that I buy at Maxim's in Rockville is the best of the 4 brands I've tried.

One thing I'm certain of: Ketchup is NO substitute for tamarind! I'm stunned that Bittman would suggest that.

Okay so I didn't get Tamarind Paste/Concentrate. You are correctly identifying what the brick I bought looks like. I don't know whether or not I have the stomach to try this dish again. I'm very sad. I was surprised to see ketchup as a substitution too but it's what he said in the recipe. First of his recipes to let me down. Oddly its the only cookbook I use.

Thank you soooo much for this information.

p.s. where is Maxim's in Rockville? Near a metro?

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p.s. where is Maxim's in Rockville? Near a metro?

It's on Rockville Pike just north of the Town Center -- the closest metro station would be Rockville, and it should be a moderate walk from there, but I'm not entirely sure, since I've never walked it. However, you may very well be able to find this at other Asian groceries. Also, my second favorite is the Tamicon brand which I have found at Whole Foods.

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It sounds to me that what you bought was actually a solid block of tamarind pulp and those 'almonds' are actually the tamarind seeds. Commercial tamarind paste or concentrate comes in a jar and looks something like apple butter, but the taste is nothing like that -- it's more like prunes with lime juice. You can make use of the tamarind block to make tamarind liquid which you can use for your pad thai. What I do is take about 1/2 of a 14-oz block of tamarind and add 2.5 cups of hot water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then I use my fingers to squeeze the block like a sponge until the pulp separates from the seeds and dissolves in the water. I then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the undissolved pulp and seeds. The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. If you prefer to buy tamarind concentrate, I find that Asian Best's Concentrated Cooking Tamarind that I buy at Maxim's in Rockville is the best of the 4 brands I've tried.

One thing I'm certain of: Ketchup is NO substitute for tamarind! I'm stunned that Bittman would suggest that.

The only thing that I would disagree with is EVER buying the concentrate in a jar. I've never found one that tastes acceptable.

FWIW, I buy my blocks 'o tamarind at the Thai Market in downtown silver spring across from the Safeway on Thayer (?)

<shill alert>It's a great little store for all Thai food related things and their little take out counter is pretty solid</shill alert>

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FWIW, I buy my blocks 'o tamarind at the Thai Market in downtown silver spring across from the Safeway on Thayer (?)

<shill alert>It's a great little store for all Thai food related things and their little take out counter is pretty solid</shill alert>

I'm glad to know they're still there - thanks.

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You can also buy blocks of tamarind that claim to be seedless...I bought some at the hung phat grocery store (next to Mi La Cay) by Georgia Ave...although I have yet to use it.

Please do try to make the pad thai again...it will be totally different with real tamarind compared to ketchup!

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Has anyone seen tamarind paste in a tube form, like the European tomato pastes? My mother-in-law has me looking for it and says she found it superior to other forms of tamarind paste, but of course she didn't make any notes about the origins of the tube. A quick google search has not yielded helpful information. We struck out at the Sterling Grand Mart.

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When I cleared out my pantry recently (prior to ripping out the kitchen floor) I found 3! blocks of tamarind paste-not quite sure what I was thinking. I love sour, but usually, lime takes care of that for me. I want to use the tamarind, but realizing I buy & forget it, I wonder if I could mix w/ hot water, mush & strain it, then freeze icecubes of it?

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When I cleared out my pantry recently (prior to ripping out the kitchen floor) I found 3! blocks of tamarind paste-not quite sure what I was thinking. I love sour, but usually, lime takes care of that for me. I want to use the tamarind, but realizing I buy & forget it, I wonder if I could mix w/ hot water, mush & strain it, then freeze icecubes of it?

Yes, you could do that. It should store well in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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When I cleared out my pantry recently (prior to ripping out the kitchen floor) I found 3! blocks of tamarind paste-not quite sure what I was thinking. I love sour, but usually, lime takes care of that for me. I want to use the tamarind, but realizing I buy & forget it, I wonder if I could mix w/ hot water, mush & strain it, then freeze icecubes of it?

Sure. Then you can forget that you have it in your freezer :(

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So, while I was in New York I picked up something the Thai store said was Tamarind Paste but on the can it said Tamarind Concentrate. Regardless I powered through the recipe.

It does not taste the same or nearly as good as what I get at Thai restaurants. I think Pad Thai will have to remain a comfort dish I get at a restaurant. Sigh.

ETA: I wish I had read the Chez Pim posting before I tried again tonight. Maybe I'll try again another day...

ETA Again: Um, it seems one of the ingredients I used was not safe as I didn't realize Fish Sauce has to be refrigerated. Live and learn and realize I need to take a food safety class.

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I just bought a jar of concentrated cooking tamarind. Do I have to refrigerate the jar after I open it? How long will it keep for after it is opened?

yes! It has to be refrigerated. I don't know how long it will keep but I just read the can... :-)

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ETA Again: Um, it seems one of the ingredients I used was not safe as I didn't realize Fish Sauce has to be refrigerated. Live and learn and realize I need to take a food safety class.

? No, it doesn't. It's already fermented.

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It sounds to me that what you bought was actually a solid block of tamarind pulp and those 'almonds' are actually the tamarind seeds. Commercial tamarind paste or concentrate comes in a jar and looks something like apple butter, but the taste is nothing like that -- it's more like prunes with lime juice. You can make use of the tamarind block to make tamarind liquid which you can use for your pad thai. What I do is take about 1/2 of a 14-oz block of tamarind and add 2.5 cups of hot water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then I use my fingers to squeeze the block like a sponge until the pulp separates from the seeds and dissolves in the water. I then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the undissolved pulp and seeds. The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. If you prefer to buy tamarind concentrate, I find that Asian Best's Concentrated Cooking Tamarind that I buy at Maxim's in Rockville is the best of the 4 brands I've tried.

One thing I'm certain of: Ketchup is NO substitute for tamarind! I'm stunned that Bittman would suggest that.

Bittman's audience generally consists of people who don't know how to cook. So in that context, it makes perfect sense.

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Re: refrigerating fish sauce.  Probably prolongs the taste, like refrigerating soy sauce.  A friend of mine threw out an almost full bottle of Red Boat fish sauce when he lost power, for the same reason, the label said to refrigerate it.  I advised him to rescue it from the trash but it was too late.

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