Thai food had once been my extra super favourite in the whole world. It was also one of the first things I knew I couldn't eat anymore. The last time I had Thai food from a restaurant, I was doubled over in such horrible toot cramps that I swore I would never eat it again. After doing the research I needed to do to create this recipe, I now know why. I knew that conventional Thai food was loaded with sugar, but holly smokaroondles, I didn't know there was that much sugar. Seriously. The combo of vinegar and sugar is a perfect recipe to create the biggest toot bomb to ever be ballooned in the belly... not to mention suspect fish sauce.
Not to worry my Thai food lovers. I am here for you. I have you covered with this gem. Last week when we rocked the mango salad, I talked about my (now embarrassing) discovery of Sambal (seriously- how did you all know about it and I didn't), so I thought I'd share some info on another ingredient that I have had before but never bought before. This one will for sure be knew to a few of you... at least I hope so.
The first time I ever heard of tamarind was in the Caribbean and it was so gross. It was formed into this overly sweet, sugar coated jelly ball that made me want to yak-adoodle. I've had a bad taste for tamarind since then. Buuuut- then I saw it in all these Thai recipes and decided to dig a little deeper.
As it turns out, tamarind, as I suspected, is actually a deliciously sour and sweet fruit. No sugar needed here. Tamarind is often considered an herb but it is in fact a fruit.
Wikepdia filled me on the following interesting world wide uses.
- Guadeloupe: used in jams and syrups.
- Trinidad and Tobago: rolled into balls (5 cm in diameter) with white granulated sugar and a blend of spices to create tambran balls.
- Mexico: sold in various snack forms: dried and salted; or candied.
- Egypt: served as a sour, chilled drink
- Southern Kenya: the Swahili people use it to garnish legumes and also make juices.
- Somalia: used to give rice some sour flavour.
- Madagascar: fruits and leaves are a well-known favorite of the ring-tailed lemurs, providing as much as 50% of their food resources during the year i
- Northern Nigeria: used with millet powder to prepare kunun tsamiya, a traditional pap mostly used as breakfast, and usually eaten with bean cake.
- Turkey: consumed as a sweetened cold drink.
- Myanmar: young and tender leaves and flower buds are eaten as a vegetable. A salad dish of tamarind leaves, boiled beans, and crushed peanuts topped with crispy fried onions is served in rural Myanmar.
- Philippines: used in foods like sinigang soup, and also made into candies. The leaves are also used in sinampalukan soup.
- Thailand: bred specifically to be eaten as a fresh fruit: it is particularly sweet and minimally sour. It is also sometimes eaten preserved in sugar with chili as a sweet-and-spicy candy.
- Used as an Ayurvedic medicine for gastric problem, digestion problems and cardio protective activity.
- Tamarind can be used as a mild laxative.
- Supports liver health and gall bladder activity
- High in vitamin C
- Healing to skin inflammation
- Being a good source of antioxidants, tamarind helps fight against cancer.
- Tamarind is used as blood purifier.
Yield: Serves 6
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbs tamari
- ¼ cup sunflower butter (or sunflower seeds if you have a high powered blender)
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 1 small tomato (about ¼ cup) or 2 Tbs cup tomato puree
- 2 Tbs hot sauce I used this one
- 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- 1 Tbs tamarind
- [br]The Pad Thai
- ½ package of wide, flat rice noodles (or noodle of choice)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 package firm sprouted tofu (about 454 gram or 1 lb)
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
- ½ red pepper, sliced thin
- ½-1 tsp sambal olek (or 2 small dried thai chilies)
- ½ cup cashews, chopped
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Blend all ingredients together in your blender or food processor.
- Set aside.
- Cook noodles as directed on package (though please remove and drain just before fully cooked). The noodles will be added to the Pad Thai mix and if you cook them too long, they can quickly turn to mush.
- Wrap your block of tofu in some clean towels and cover in a few of your heavy cookbooks. This helps press out the extra water and create a denser texture. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Cut tofu into small squares or triangles, or mix it up!
- Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add tofu and lightly pan fry, turning to brown on all sides.
- Remove tofu and set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil, red onion and garlic to the pan and cook for about five minutes.
- Add the broccoli and red pepper and let cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Add the sauce to pan and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes (to avoid any sticking).
- Add the bean sprouts, hot chilis and cashews. Mix in and set aside- while noodles finish cooking.
- Once noodles are ready, add to the pan and stir around, mixing in to the sauce thoroughly. Tongs can be helpful.
- Serve hot and garnish with lime.