Recipe: sweet-tart tamarind enhances plump shrimp Food

Tamarind remains a bit of a mystery to most chefs in the United States, but its sweet and sour flesh is appreciated by chefs from tropical Africa to India, Mexico and beyond. The pods resemble long, onion peanuts, but the aroma evokes some combination of lemons, dates and apricots – making it a powerful ingredient filled with flavor.

We enjoyed how its sweet acidity illuminated a Persian stew with seafood called galieh mahi, which often comes with handfuls of cilantro, onions, fenugreek, turmeric, chili peppers and more. White fish is often cooked in a bright sauce, absorbing herbal aromas.

In this recipe from our book “Milky Street Tuesday Night,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we’ve shortened the list of ingredients to make turmeric and cilantro stand out. They both complement the natural sweetness of easy-to-cook shrimp, which we fry on one side only; allowing the shrimp to finish cooking in the more delicate residual heat of the sauce prevents them from overcooking. For a savory depth, to balance the brightness, we also add tomato paste.

Tamarind paste is available in Asian markets, sold in dense blocks packed in plastic. It should be soft and flexible, not hard and brittle.

Shrimp with tamarind and cilantro


From start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings Per Container: 4

3 tablespoons tamarind paste

2½ glasses of water

2 tablespoons grape seed or other neutral oil

1½ pound of extra-large shrimp, peeled, peeled, tails removed and dried

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and delicate stems separated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

In a glass measuring cup of 2 cups or in a small microwave bowl mix the tamarind paste and ½ cup of water. Bake in the microwave on high heat for about 1 minute, then whisk to stir. Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour the mixture through a fine sieve set over a bowl, and press on the solids to get as much liquid as possible; throw out solids. You should have about ⅓ a glass of strained tamarind.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add half of the shrimp in an even layer and cook, stirring, until lightly golden brown on the bottom, about 45 seconds. Using a skimmer, transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining shrimp; postpone.

In the same pan over medium-low add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and slightly golden in color, 6 to 8 minutes. Mix 2 teaspoons of salt and butter, then add ½ cups of cilantro. Cook, stirring often, until the cilantro darkens and the onion turns golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the tamarind and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Mix coriander, turmeric, ¾ teaspoon pepper and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors merge, about 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp and stir to cover the sauce. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp become opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add ¼ cups of the remaining cilantro, then try and salt. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the remaining cilantro or more as desired.

Editor’s note: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap

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