Published Mar 1, 2004

I’ll be honest, I’ve not had the greatest success in cooking Asian food in the past. I love to cook, and I love Asian food, but I haven’t shown off my three-star Michelin chef skills in that genre in the past. Spicy food turns out mild, flavorful food turns out bland, everything but my deep-fried fish is ordinary at best. But I’ve been craving Asian lately, so I decided to give it a try.

I thumbed through a few cookbooks and ended up with Malaysian Tamarind Shrimp from my “Best of Sunset” cookbook. It looked quick and easy, and, best of all, it uses tamarinds.

I’d never cooked with tamarinds before, but I’m always a sucker for new ingredients. I bought a block of tamarind pulp at the local (interethnic) Halal carneceria and set to cooking. Step 1 was to turn the pulp into a flavorful liquid:
a brown thick liquid in a glass bowl

OK, so the beginning was not propitious. But I mixed the sauce and then cooked the shrimp quickly over high heat, as if in a wok. It started to look and smell good:
shrimp frying in a hot nonstick skillet

Served on rice, garnished with slivers of green onions, it turned out a wonderful meal:
a bowl of red-orange shrimp over rice Sweet, tangy and just slightly spicy, it’s a great and easy dish and one that I’d make again. Maybe I’ll try more chili sauce next time — after all, the fun lays in the fine-tuning of the dish.