It looks a bit like a brain, doesn’t it? This one kilo block of “ripe” sampalok cost me just PHP60 ($1.20) at the FTI market the other day. I keep typing “ripe” as it wasn’t exactly naturally sweet like the whole tamarind pods that come from Thailand (do they sweeten those somehow without peeling them?). In fact, this tamarind was so sour I can’t imagine how much more sour it was when it was green and unripe!
I put the entire block of tamarind into a pot, added maybe 7-8 cups of water and turned the flames to medium high. I wrote about some freshly peeled ripe sampalok before, here and here, and I wanted to make some sampalok puree once again for other uses… I added 2 cups of white sugar, tasted it and freaked out at just how sour it still was. I added another 2-3 cups of brown sugar and it took on a beautiful deep caramel color and it started to taste nicely tart and sweet at the same time. Once it was just the right consistency (it thickens a bit as it cools, I took it off the heat and passed it through a sieve
Once it was just the right consistency (it thickens a bit as it cools), I took it off the heat and passed it through a sieve and bottled up half the yield for uses in marinades, sauces, etc. Now if only I could get my hands on say 100 kilos of this stuff, I would make hundreds of bottles of tamarind puree to use in our restaurants… because right now I realize we use commercial thai tamarind puree (for our roasted chickens) that costs 5x the cost of doing it ourselves, with local produce to boot!