Featured Ingredient: Tamarind
This weeks Foodie Fight challenge involves pairing tamarind and brown sugar together in a recipe. Most people are used to using brown sugar in the kitchen, but tamarind…not so much.
Tamarind is a fruit from the tamarind tree. The fruit is shaped like a tanned long bean, inside of which lies a reddish-brown sour pulp containing many seeds. The pulp is a staple in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Tamarind is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. Who knew?
A good source of fiber, tamarinds are also abundant in B vitamins, blood pressure lowering potassium and magnesium. Though most people don’t consume nearly enough magnesium, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving more than 64,000 women reported that high intakes of this mineral is protective against type 2 diabetes. It appears magnesium helps improve blood sugar control.
Tamarind comes in three main forms - pods, paste, and concentrate - a thick, dark, ready to use syrup sold in jars. The paste is pulp pressed into block form and what I used for this recipe.
This is about 4 ounces of tamarind paste in block form.
You can find tamarind paste and concentrate at any Asian or Indian market and it adds a nice touch of tangy sweetness to glazes, soups, vinaigrette's and this sweet and sour chutney.
Our fish monger had a great deal on red snapper this week but you could use tilapia, catfish, sole or other white fleshed fish in this recipe as well. With a bunch of local peaches in the fridge, I decided to serve a super easy peach gazpacho as an appetizer and have included this excellent recipe. It’s a perfect cold soup for a sultry August night.
If this makes you want to lick your screen, consider heading over to Foodie Fights on Tuesday and voting for moi.
Red Snapper Cakes with Tamarind Chutney
Fish cakes adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook
4 oz tamarind paste
1 cup boiling water
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin seeds or ½ tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. coriander seeds or ½ tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. fennel seeds
¼ cup dried currants
¼ tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
In a large bowl, pour boiling water over tamarind paste and let sit 30 minutes. If using seeds, toast them over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant and darkened, about 2 minutes. Grind seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (I used this). Place a sieve with large holes such as a metal colander over a saucepan and pour in tamarind water mixture. Press down on pulp to extract as much liquid as possible. In the saucepan will be a syrupy dark liquid. Add sugar, cumin, coriander, fennel, currants, chili powder and salt to the saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
4 large eggs
1 lb. red snapper fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour or other flour of choice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
Zest of 1 lime
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a dry skillet, toast coconut over medium heat until it turns golden and becomes very fragrant, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Mix in coconut, snapper, flour, cilantro, ginger, green onions, fish sauce and lime zest. Divide evenly among 10 medium sized greased or paper lined muffin cups.
Cook until eggs are set, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve topped with tamarind chutney.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
6 ripe peaches, chopped
2/3 cup water
½ cucumber, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Red bell pepper, diced (I actually used a purple pepper from the market)
Green or baby red onions, sliced
Combine peaches, water, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until well combined but still somewhat chunky. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Place peach gazpacho in serving bowls, stir in cilantro and top with red pepper, avocado and onion.