Adding fruity aromas of tamarind to classic South East Asian dressing flavours adds another level of complexity and deliciousness. Tangy, sweet and spicy, our Chilli Tamarind dressing is one you will make all the time.
Do you ever stand in front of the soy sauce shelf in the supermarket, especially in the Asian supermarkets and wonder which soy sauce you should get?
Nowadays there are rows and rows of different brands, types and sizes that it’s super confusing.
Like many condiments that have been around for a very long time, you can appreciate that there are different qualities of soy sauce and for the ultimate connoisseur, there is a vast difference between them all.
Soy sauce variations can be categorised in 3 ways; naturally or chemically brewed, Chinese or Japanese and light or dark.
I can already hear you frowning and saying “what?” I know, I’m Chinese and even I get confused! Let’s break it down:
Natural vs chemical: Made from soybeans, water, wheat and salt, natural soy sauces are fermented for over 2 years. Yup, just like a good wine or cheese. It’s flavours are quite complex and much like wine, they all differ in their tastes based on the soy sauce maker.
Chemically produced soy sauces are manipulated with lots of different additives so it’s made in just a few days for mass production. It has the same consistent salty flavour across the board.
Chinese vs Japanese: Chinese soy sauce was originally made without wheat but the modern day process includes wheat flour, which gives it a slightly thicker consistency.
Japanese soy sauce uses roasted wheat and the flavours are more robust and sweeter than the Chinese version.
Light vs dark: The difference between light and dark soy is dictated by the aging process. The longer it’s aged the darker it becomes.
Most of the Japanese soy sauces are considered dark while most of the Chinese soy sauces are light. However to confuse you even more, you can actually get specific Chinese dark soy sauces too.
For this recipe, I used the Chinese soy sauce as I wanted a lighter and saltier finish.
Chilli Soy Dressing Ingredients
Rice wine vinegar: Be sure that you have actually purchased rice wine vinegar and not just rice wine. 2 very different products and will make a very salad dressing if only wine is poured in!
If you have ever come across Shaoxing, mirin or sake, these are wines only. No bacteria has been added to the fermentation process to turn the alcohol into acid.
Soy sauce: Avoid using dark soy sauce for this dressing as the flavours are too strong and the consistency won’t be right.
Fish sauce: Add some pungent fish sauce to the mix to really elevate the flavours. For a saltier finish, the Squid Brand fish sauce is our go to and another staple in our pantry. Otherwise try the Golden Boy brand.
Chilli flakes: I wanted to add some heat into the dressing without using a flavoured chilli sauce. I also didn’t want to use fresh chilli so I could control how spicy this will be.
Fresh chillies are unpredictable in terms of how spicy they are. So using chilli flakes means there are no surprises and is always consistent.
Garlic: Can’t have an Asian salad dressing without garlic. For this recipe we need time for the garlic to really permeate the dressing.
Lime: A fresh citrusy addition makes this dressing all the more delicious.
Chilli Soy Dressing Method
For this salad dressing recipe, make it before you start your salad. You need to let the garlic do its work and allow it time to infuse with the rest of the ingredients.
Crush one garlic clove to release its pungent aromas.
Mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli flakes and the juice of ¼ lime. Then add the crushed garlic to the dressing and leave it for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can always make this ahead of time and leave it overnight.
Best Salad for This Dressing
A celebration of colours, this Asian Vermicelli Salad delivers on flavour and presentation. Mixed through with aromatic Vietnamese mint, crunchy sugar snap peas and pungent fish sauce, this salad will soon become a dinner party favourite!
Chilli Soy Dressing
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- Peel 1 garlic clove and crush it.
- Mix the rest of the dressing ingredients together and add garlic clove.
- Let the garlic marinate in the dressing for 30 minutes.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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