27 Feb2013


Armed with 2 kilos of peeled ripe tamarind, at just PHP30 per kilo, it was time for a few experiments. I had little or no access to the web while at the beach, and had no previous experience with cooking ripe tamarind, so I decided to wing it, and if all failed, I wouldn’t feel bad about the monetary expense. The crew helped me peel off the stems and large veins from the ripe sampalok, then I placed it in a pot and covered it with water.


Put the pot over medium high heat and bring the water to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer. I mashed the sampalok a bit, but after a few minutes realized it was disintegrating on its own. Tasted the water and my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets from the intense sourness of the broth, so I added a cup or two of sugar and let it simmer for another few minutes. It was still incredibly sour, and I decided I was going to make my own sampalok puree for use in roasted chickens, and additions to other cooked dishes, so I figured it had to be redolent with flavor, but not overly tart that it would be an unwelcome addition to other experiments. So I added another cup or two of sugar. So perhaps 4 cups of sugar to 1 kilo of sampalok and several cups of water.


Without much of a wait, the sampalok, water and sugar turned into this beautiful mass, it smelled wonderful and tasted so intensely of tamarind, but sweetened. I knew instinctively at this point this was going to be a really good thing. I realize this may seem really common or mundane to some of you familiar with cooking ripe tamarinds, but to me, this was a whole new food experience, incredibly unique and exciting.


I strained the solids out (the seeds and the tough layer around the seeds) and ended up with this fabulous medium viscosity puree. Had I added a bit more sugar and kept stirring over a medium flame, I would have ended up with jam. But instead, I decided to work with the puree. I ended up with roughly 5-6 cups of puree and stuck 3 cups in the freezer, and noticed the next day that it didn’t freeze up… cool. Must have been the high acidity/high sugar content of the puree.


It seemed a waste to throw out the solids that still had lots of stuff attached to it, so I added some hot water, let it all swim together and strained out the solids again, ending up with a tart/sweet tamarind broth or liquid. That’s what’s in the pitcher on the left of the photo above. It would be turned into a FANTASTIC drink, up next. Meanwhile, I was wondering what to do with my newly created bounty of sampalok puree… Stay tuned for more on the sampalok adventures. :)



  1. Gia Mayol says:

    I remember buying peeled ripe tamarind wrapped in 1 kilo packs at the Carbon market too. And you are right about the tamarind juice, it really tastes good.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 6:41 am


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  3. tess says:

    Mr. MM why not try it on sampalok vinaigrette?

    Feb 27, 2013 | 7:04 am

  4. Marketman says:

    tess, good idea, I have tried a duhat vinaigrette in the past… and Gia, if I find a steady supplier of ripe tamarind in Cebu, we will introduce a few tamarind based items on the Zubu menu for sure… :)

    Feb 27, 2013 | 7:17 am

  5. linda says:

    Tamarind chutney?

    Feb 27, 2013 | 7:24 am

  6. Kasseopeia says:

    MM, I will happily hoard any tamarind-based stuff at Zubuchon as well as all the non-tamarind stuff. Oh that guava jelly!

    I remember making a roast chicken with a sampaloc-chive basting liquid/turned sauce a few years back. It turned out a bit like peking duck. We ate it rolled up in the wrapper for fresh lumpiang ubod with a bit of the reduced basting liquid and a tiny bit of coriander.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 10:43 am

  7. Honey says:

    I once did a roasted chicken in sampalok and it was good. I just basically rub the chicken (inside and outside) with pounded sampalok and include the remaining sampalok in the roasting pan. But with your puree, I can imagine the result would be better that what I had. Could be done with liempo as well.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 12:17 pm

  8. Clarissa says:

    Why was it sour? I remember eating ripe tamarinds raw, and they were really good on its own, more sweet than sour. And knowing it was free of added sugar was a plus.

    On the other hand, you could have made sampalok candy if you omitted the water. I loved it when we used to make seedless sampalok candy balls. Just pop one in your mouth and you were good to go :)

    Feb 27, 2013 | 1:09 pm

  9. Papa Ethan says:

    This post brings back memories of childhood summers in the barrio when we would climb the sampalok trees and eat the ripe fruit right out of the branches, with salt-and-sugar mixture in hand. The fruit that ripens on the branches has very brittle skin that easily flakes off with a few flicks (“pitik”) of the finger. =)

    Feb 27, 2013 | 1:46 pm

  10. Lissa says:

    Hi MM, how about basting seafood /meat with it?

    Feb 27, 2013 | 2:55 pm

  11. kidmd13 says:

    Tamarind Pudding Shots

    Feb 27, 2013 | 3:27 pm

  12. Maki says:

    Tamarindo. A comfort food/condiment for me.. :D

    Feb 27, 2013 | 3:28 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    Clarissa, I think it depends on the variety of sampalok and the location and growing conditions. This was quite sour, I tasted it raw. I have tasted thai varieties out of their shells that are fabulously sweet, almost too sweet… :)

    Feb 27, 2013 | 5:28 pm

  14. Vennis Suarez says:

    I always see wrapped in plastic bags,peeled ripe tamarind in Carbon Public Market MM.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 5:30 pm

  15. j. says:

    Aguas Frescas, agua de tamarindo. Stuff is awesome to drink on a hot day… and it is the same process to make as above!

    Feb 27, 2013 | 5:43 pm

  16. Barang says:

    At Pollo Campero, a Central/South American chain here in greater Boston, they serve tamarind juice. Refreshing, am just not used to drinking tamarind other than as soup!

    Feb 27, 2013 | 7:47 pm

  17. cumin says:

    Tamarind didn’t feature much in my childhood, but I learned to appreciate tamarind juice during travel in later years — so refreshing, no? I wish restaurants here sold it. Fingers crossed you find a regular supplier, MM, so you can popularize this as you did the kamias shake. Haven’t seen tamarind like MM’s in the markets I frequent, but I can get tamarind paste at Assad’s, the ‘Indian’ grocery along Jupiter St/UN Ave, helps to temper the heat in Malaysian fish curry.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 8:48 pm

  18. ros says:

    Tamarind Cake!! :D

    epicurious.com has a list of interesting recipes:


    But really I would be very happy and content just relishing every spoonful of that sweetened sauce/puree. It’s my peanut butter/Nutella. :P

    Feb 27, 2013 | 9:35 pm

  19. Vermz says:

    Hello MM! Nangasim ako just by looking at the pictures and reading this entry. By the way, I think you meant throw instead of through on the part where you wrote, “It seemed a waste to through out the solids”. Looking forward to the next sampalok adventures!

    Feb 27, 2013 | 10:03 pm

  20. betty q. says:

    Your Thai green papaya salad with a tweaked dressing using the sweet sampalok in place of the palm sugar or a combination of both. Serve it with crab cakes.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 10:18 pm

  21. betty q. says:

    Forgot about the Thai peanut sauce for sate…made with coconut milk, packaged red curry paste ( I always use Asian Home Gourmet brand found in any Asian store), chopped roasted peanuts, patis,brown sugar and a bit of stock or water, then tamarind water or purée to taste…not related to Asian Family Gourmet nor have I worked for them but I found their pastes to be really excellent…a must try mga Mrs. Is there Thai green curry paste…when I make thai green curried chicken made with coconut milk…..no leftovers!

    Another one is sort of like an HP sauce…Gisa some garlic and onions in oil, then add a touch of the rd curry paste since you will have extra from the sate sauce para hindi sayang , tamarind paste or purée, a big pinch of chopped cilantro roots( finely chopped), a swirl of toyo, water to thin it out, chili flakes for zip, brown sugar to taste. simmer for a bit and then blitz with immersion blender.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 10:44 pm

  22. el_jefe says:

    wow! sarap na sawsawan ng sugpo o swahe!

    Feb 27, 2013 | 10:55 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Vermz, thanks for catching that, I edited it. :) Vennis, thanks, will have to look for it soon…

    Feb 27, 2013 | 11:37 pm

  24. Lava Bien says:

    Tamarind Chutney, ahhh so good!

    Feb 28, 2013 | 2:55 am

  25. Ted says:

    MM, i think you may have just created “Tamicon” paste a very popular paste in India.

    Feb 28, 2013 | 9:20 am

  26. becky says:

    At Cafe Ilang Ilang, we had barbecued ribs that had a strong cumin flavor but the secret was in the tamarind-based sauce. That cumin-tamarind combo was amazing.

    Feb 28, 2013 | 10:05 am

  27. Anupama says:

    In Kerala we make a tamarind chutney called “Inji Puli” translation (Ginger Tamarind). This is eaten as a chutney with a rice meal. Remove the seeds and soak the tamarind in hot water for an hour. Strain out the solid parts and you have a thick puree. Alternately just boil whole and strain like you did. Stir fry some ginger pieces and green chillies. Add jaggery and the thick puree. Once you have a thick sauce, add a pinch of asafoetida. Once cool, store in the fridge. Its finger licking yummy.

    Feb 28, 2013 | 5:11 pm

  28. chad says:

    MM is that a non-reactive pot I see? Would storage also be best in non-reactive (non-metal) containers like bottles, jars etc? O wait, there’s plastic so we can freeze it.

    Feb 28, 2013 | 5:45 pm

  29. Marketman says:

    Chad, storage would be best in a bottle, yes. But I froze it in plastic containers… Anupama, that sounds wonderful… will have to try that. I have had sauce like chutneys at Indian restaurants as dips for bread… hmmm, definitely haven’t been playing with tamarind enough to date… thanks. becky, the tamarind cumin sauce sounds good too…

    Mar 1, 2013 | 1:16 pm

  30. Meg says:

    Best use as ingredient in your tom yum soup.

    Mar 2, 2013 | 12:28 am

  31. paul 1bro says:

    Looks yummy! Can i do it with unripe tamarind(most available in the market) but to make it sweet i’ll add brown sugar?

    Mar 25, 2013 | 10:36 am


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