This Salty Tamarind Dressing is no ordinary salad dressing. Combining some fragrant and strong flavoured ingredients, this Asian dressing is definitely one that commands attention.
Our Salty Tamarind dressing is not for the faint hearted. To many people, the shrimp paste used in the tamarind dressing can be very pungent but once combined well with the tamarind pulp and palm sugar, the concoction is so delicious – sweet, sour and salty all together. It literally is an explosion of flavours in one mouth full.
So what is shrimp paste? Originating from Southeast Asia, shrimp paste is made of tiny shrimp that is salted, dried under sunlight for a couple of days before they are pounded and then left to ferment over a period of time. It has a pungent aroma that is essential in many curries, soup noodles, sauces and sambal chilli. Not to everyone’s taste (most likely due to the strong smell) but once you know how to use it well, it adds so much depth and savoury notes.
Shrimp paste does come in many forms. Ranging from salty pale liquid “harm ha” sauce used often in Cantonese stir fries to a thick pungent molasses-like shrimp paste used in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking and of course the hardened dark brown blocks of belacan essential in spicy Malaysian sambal.
The shrimp paste in this recipe is the thick molasses-like version so we can mix it well in the tamarind dressing plus adding in delicious salty flavours.
All the ingredients in the dressing can be bought from most Asian grocery stores. You can also substitute tamarind pulp in this recipe with tamarind puree. Saves you from soaking the pulp. And of course if you prefer more heat, add more chilli. All our salad recipes can be tweaked to your liking.
Salty Tamarind Dressing Ingredients
Tamarind pulp: This the “wet” version of the tamarind of which you can purchase in a vacuum packed packet. You can get this Wet Tamarind Paste and it’s also seedless.
Shrimp paste: Shrimp paste comes in many forms but for this recipe use the Tra Chang Thai Shrimp Paste which is a thick paste. Don’t get the dried blocks (belachan) as it won’t really work for what we need.
Palm sugar: Palm sugar comes in packets in your Asian grocers either in small oval blocks or in a large cylinder. Either is fine to use.
Lime: A lot of flavours going on in this recipe, all competing to stand out. Let’s add some lime to round it all together in perfect harmony.
Peanut oil: Sticking to quintessential Asian ingredients, we have used peanut oil. You can of course substitute this with an oil of your choice if you need a nut free version.
Red chillies: No Asian recipe would be complete without some spicy chillies!
Salty Tamarind Dressing Method
All the ingredients in the dressing can be bought from most Asian grocery stores. I’ve used tamarind pulp in this recipe but you can also purchase tamarind puree from major supermarkets. Saves you from soaking the pulp.
To start the tamarind dressing, soak tamarind pulp in a little warm water until soft. Then strain it in a large bowl and remove the pips.
In the tamarind pulp, add shrimp paste and palm sugar and whisk well until you have a thick smooth consistency. Then add lime juice and peanut oil to thin the dressing. Mix well.
Add crushed chilli to taste. If you prefer it more spicy, add extra chilli..
Best Salad for This Dressing
Combining exotic flavours in salty tamarind dressing served with prawns, crunchy green mango, grilled pineapple and cucumber, this Thai Green Mango Salad recipe is super refreshing. Great starter to get the taste buds moving.
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Salty Tamarind Dressing
- Soak tamarind pulp in a little warm water until soft. Then strain it in a large bowl and remove the pips.
- In the tamarind pulp, add shrimp paste and palm sugar and whisk well until you have a thick smooth consistency.
- Add lime juice and peanut oil to thin the dressing. Mix well.
- Add crushed chilli to taste. If prefer more spicy, add more.
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