Whenever I have Thai food on my mind, I personally always lean towards a couple of items; laap (larb) or som tam (papaya salad) and both with sticky rice of course. However I seem to always want to perfect pad thai, even though I am not really a big fan of it and it’s something I typically never order at a Thai restaurant. However, it is one of my wife’s go to dishes when ordering Thai food and so I often default of thinking what I can cook for her (and the kids) before cooking for myself. So as I had pad Thai on my mind, I always think about the sweet, sour, and spice of that dish (as much of Thai cooking). That sour always leads me to a couple of things in Thai cooking and that is tamarind and lime.
I love tamarind, and so I decided to really use a great Thai sauce known as Nam Jim Kai Yang, I believe. Nam Jim Jaew is similar with the addition of toasted rice powder green onions. Vietnamese cooking has something similar. See, I also had other things on my mind beyond pad thai, however I wanted to be able to use that same sauce in a pad thai and see how it would work. Honestly this sauce seems to be so versatile, and addicting that I believe you will find a handful of uses for it.
Let’s get started.
- 1/2 cup palm sugar, mashed (or light brown sugar)
- 3 tbsp tamarind paste/pulp
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat or 3 Crabs brand)
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 tbsp Thai chili powder (more for spicier)
This is a simple throw together sauce so you should be ready in no time.
Start by getting a small sauce pot on medium-low heat. Add in the palm sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and water. Whisk to break down the tamarind paste.
Please note, you may be asking yourself where the heck can I find this ‘palm sugar’ and ‘tamarind paste’? Don’t fret, you can find these at your local Asian or Mexican grocery store.
Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes, whisking along the way. You want that tamarind pulp to breakdown. It should be good after 5 minutes, but you can take it up to 10 minutes if necessary.
Pour the sauce into a serving container, add in the chili powder, stir, and let it cool.
As you can see I used mine as a dipping sauce for some crispy Vietnamese style chicken wings. Those were marinated in a ton of minced garlic and fish sauce, then grilled slowly until crisp. I like my wings on the ‘harder’ crisp side. The extra sauce was later used in my pad thai. It was a great addition as you get both the sour and spice.
This sauce is awesome. It’s a thinner sauce, and is not only great for dipping, but you could spoon this on rice, or heck I wouldn’t even dislike it if you said you drizzled it on a salad. I love it, and I bet you will too! Hope you enjoy.