25 Feb2013


It isn’t that often that I find ingredients at my regular market haunts that I haven’t seen before, or have written about, for that matter. You tend to fall into a comfortable routine, like hitting favorite seafood vendors, buying my sea salt from Manang X, and purchasing ripe saba bananas in the fruit section whenever I visit the Nasugbu town market. But last weekend, I spotted some brown stuff inside a plastic bag and realized it was a huge clump of ripe and peeled tamarind fruit. Sampalok candies were my all-time favorite childhood sweet, along with my favorite champoy or kiamoy as my savory snack. I LOVE SAMPALOK candies and still do to this day, though I have to admit I eat a lot less of them due to the apparent amounts of sugar they possess. I almost always take a little packet of sampalok and champoy with me on long plane trips, I find the sharp flavors and sugar/salt are good quick pick me ups. At any rate, I had NEVER really made or thought to make them from scratch. It just seemed so much easier to buy them for such reasonable sums of money.


Without a clue what to do with the sampalok, and perhaps invisibly guided by a reader comment requesting a recipe for tamarind jam a few days ago, and bizarrely, comments left by sister on the blog (about our grandmother making a mean sampalok jam) at the same time I was at the market shopping, I think the planets aligned to guide me to the pile of ripe tamarind. At PHP30 a kilo, I thought it was a supreme steal, and bought 2 kilos on the spot. The lady selling them said they were supplied by a lady up in “the bukid” or mountains nearby. She had picked them, peeled them and walked them several kilometers down to the main road and eventually to the market. Egads, had I met the supplier, I would have paid her double for all her trouble. I can’t imagine what kind of patience and lack of any other thing to do is required to sit down and peel hundreds of these tamarind pods.

Previous posts on sampaloc:

Bomba Sampalok
Sweet Thai Sampalok in its shell
Sampalok candy from Thailand



  1. Andrea says:

    MM, I also love sampalok, be it fresh or candied. When I came home from US early this month,
    may nakahanda na silang isang kilo of fresh sweet sampalok for me at ito na ang kinakain ko on our way home from the airport! My tita makes a good jam, very good with hot pandesal!

    Feb 25, 2013 | 7:47 pm


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  3. ConnieC says:

    I love candied tamarind.

    Once a visiting friend from Thailand brought me the best candied sampalok I’ve ever had. I gave some of it to another friend which did not sit very well with her. And I understood why. She says she made a special trip to obtain the tamarind from a place where making it has been an age old tradition and that it is not so readily available any more.

    Feb 25, 2013 | 8:27 pm

  4. dianne says:

    my boyfriend makes his own (seedless) sampaloc confection with siling labuyo and pepper for some kick… he eats this with a spoon – saves one the trouble of removing the cellophane and spitting out the seeds ;)

    Feb 25, 2013 | 9:42 pm

  5. ambrose says:

    Hi MM, sometimes we use ripe tamarind broth for sinigang=)

    Feb 25, 2013 | 10:19 pm

  6. Risa says:

    Oh myy. Thought these were Cebu chorizo haha

    Feb 25, 2013 | 11:51 pm

  7. EbbaBlue says:

    Hinog na sampaloc lang ang mabibili mo rito sa bandang amin (Stafford, Texas), either fresh or boxed (from Thailand); minsan nga dasal ko sana merong hilaw (para sa sinigang), pero wala talaga. Pero ubod naman ng tamis ang variety na available nga rito.. so most of the time, I make it into a candy, meron pa ngang secret recipe na namana ko pa sa relatives ko, ang pagka-labas parang maasim-asim na maalat na parang makunat na champoy, ang sarap, ma-trabaho nga lang.

    Umm…. time to buy some, and make this candy, tagal ko na rin hindi nagagawa ito. Magustuhan kaya ng mga apo ko na ipinanganak at laki dito sa US? Di-bale kahit na sa akin na lang, I’ll just refrigerate, these candy has a long ref shelf life.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 12:04 am

  8. alilay says:

    we have a big sampalok tree beside our house it is the sweetest together with 2 santol trees in the backyard, growing up we have to hire somebody to climb the tree and use a tikin or a long bamboo pole with a hook at the end to shake the branches so fruits will fall. i buy them now at mexican stores and make them into sampaloc juice or eat them as is if its from thailand.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 12:43 am

  9. marilene says:

    I have been thinking of “tamarindo”, a drink from sampalok, from my childhood. Ginawa ko recently, but it was a failure.

    Pad thai uses sampalok sa sarsa, di ba?

    I have also seen it in Mexican sauces.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 1:03 am

  10. millet says:

    my mom makes sinigang na bangus with ripe sampalok, and it has a nice and interesting flavor profile. also, in many markets, you will find what my lola used to call “kapal”, a ball or a disc of ripe sampaloc pulp and seeds, sans the “veins”. we used to boil them with some sugar and water until the sampaloc was soft. the resulting sampaloc juice drink is very refreshing served over lots of ice.

    do you see those boxed fresh ripe sampaloc (still in the shells) from thailand, MM? a friend here in davao has a tree, and harvests baskets and baskets of them. even the green ones are sweet! i love them, i could eat a whole box were it not for their laxative effect which i discovered belatedly ;-)

    Feb 26, 2013 | 7:51 am

  11. Khew says:

    I’ve actually heard of tamarind sorbet.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 8:45 am

  12. ruth says:

    Hi MM, Im pretty sure those are from Batangas, Lobo in particular. To date, the town still has old old sampaloc trees along the road. Its fruit is super sweet. You’ll see the residents’ produce everywhere, candied or pods with sugar or salt etc etc. Hope you’ll have the time to visit the place, plus the beaches are very nice too as the place is along the stretch of Laiya shoreline. For your pods, I once tried a dish in Pampanga, their garnish for the grilled hito is a mixture of alamang and sampalok juice. Yummy =) On the side, the Department of Agriculture is now funding researches on ‘batuan”. I remembered your features on this crop months ago when I saw the proposal =)

    Feb 26, 2013 | 8:49 am

  13. ami says:

    We have a sampaloc tree in our house which fruits prolifically when in season. Even our dogs can’t resist it since they eat the fruits that fall to the ground. Some unusual dogs we have huh?

    Feb 26, 2013 | 8:56 am

  14. Kendrix Kyle says:

    I’ve been looking for the tamarindo recipe where ripe sampaloc is boiled until the consistency is something like bilu-bilo (thick & sticky). I am not sure if they put galapong in it. I love the contrast of the sweet & sour taste. I have not tried this recipe anywhere else other than my hometown in Tarlac.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 9:38 am

  15. Suzette says:

    Sampaloc candies make me nostalgic for the ones wrapped in cellophane which I used to buy from sari sari stores.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 11:40 am

  16. cora says:

    Sampaloc champoy and candies aside, here in the Bay Area I like the tamarindo juice made and sold by the Mexican restaurants. Mexican stores sell sweet tamarind from Mexico and not from Thailand. I never bothered to inquire how they make the tamarindo because it’s less work and not expensive to buy the juice.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 12:42 pm

  17. Maki says:

    I love tamarind, it reminds me of my younger years, I remember me and my cousins used to throw our slippers to our old tamarind tree and it was fun. We spend the whole afternoon doing that.

    Feb 26, 2013 | 12:44 pm

  18. manny says:

    Life is sweet and simple so why complicate things and making it into jam or candy… i remember looking around for stones to toss up the tree and wait for these to fall. Once a bunch of these fall, it only meant it was ripe. Nothing better than eating these straight from the tree. Slightly tangy at the same time sweet. Childhood memories when computers were non existent… ha ha ha .

    Feb 26, 2013 | 2:04 pm

  19. cat says:

    Wow! Glad to have inspired you with this post. Read your Sister’s comment on making Tamarind jam too. I haven’t seen a Tamarind fruit here in Singapore so making my own jam is impossible as of the moment. Now, I’m pressuring my brother who’ll be coming here next week to find me a Tamarind jam available in supermarkets there. Sana meron :(

    Feb 26, 2013 | 2:06 pm

  20. elaine says:

    I love sweet Sampaloc as is, but now I’m salivating at the thought of Tamarind Jam..

    Feb 26, 2013 | 3:11 pm

  21. Natie says:

    My childhood memories always include fruit-bearing trees and many means we used to enjoy their bounty..

    Feb 27, 2013 | 12:34 am

  22. Ruth Tuvilla says:

    Nakaka-homesick naman ang picture ng sampalok na hinog. Makapunta nga bukas sa Asian market at baka suwertihin ay may fresh na sampalok sila. Last month I found some green sampalok at $3./lb-bumili na rin kahit na sobrang mahal because I was craving for pinangat na bangus sa sampalok. Froze some of it for later use. Ang gustong gusto ko sa sampalok ay yong in between na hilaw at hinog- still not too sweet and a little bit tart. Those were the days.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 1:47 pm

  23. jakespeed says:

    In Singapore and Malaysia, stores sell this in handy rectangular blocks with salt as an added preservative or for flavor, perhaps. I use this as an ersatz souring agent for my pork sinigang and it works really well. It’s healthier too.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 4:11 pm

  24. PITS, MANILA says:

    there’s grilled pork with a sauce using tamarind as base.

    Mar 3, 2013 | 2:35 pm


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