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Weeknight Meals: Super Speedy Tamarind-Plum Shrimp

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If you're a big fan of Mexican, Jamaican, Turkish or Thai food (amongst others), you've probably at least tasted tamarind.  It's often lends a sweet, tangy note to everyone's favourite Asian dish, Pad Thai.  Well, I wasn't making pad thai, but I was planning an Asian-themed meal, so I decided to bust out a pack of the tamarind pulp that was hanging out in my pantry.  So what is that picky brown stuff? Well, it's actually the fruit inside the tamarind pods stripped of the outer husk and then packed into a brick of fibrous pulp.  Because of it's unpleasant texture, you probably want to push it through a mesh sieve to get rid of some of the less easily digestible bits.  The flavour of tamarind is characterized as a medley of apricot, dates and lemon (aka, both sweet and sour).  I love it, but it's pretty assertive on it's own, so I decided to mix it with some store bough plum sauce for a super-quick, but tasty sauce.
This is what I did:

Super Speedy Tamarind-Plum Shrimp 

From 3.bp.blogspot.com

2 1/2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1/3 c boiling water
1/2 c plum sauce
~1 tsp rice wine vinegar
~1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
~1 tsp chili garlic sauce (or more if you like it spicy) 
salt and pepper

1 tsp oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
2 green onions, sliced for garnish

1. Put the tamarind pulp in a bowl and cover with the boiling water.  Let it stand there for about 10 minutes, until its cool enough for you to handle it. Then start to rub it to dissolve some of the paste and separate it up.  Press it through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Discard the seeds and other fibrous solids.
2. Mix in the plum sauce, vinegar, soy, and garlic sauce.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and toss them in the pan.  Deciding on the size of the shrimp, the cooking time will vary, but wait a few minutes on one side ,  until you start to see the colour turn pink.
4. Flip the shrimp to the other side and add in the sauce.  Allow the shrimp to finish cooking through (literally another 2 minutes), and the sauce to warm through.
5. Transfer to a bowl and top with green onions, if desired.

Abbey Sharp


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