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Where do the ribs get that tang? Tropical tamarind.

Where do the ribs get that tang? Tropical tamarind

Though humble in appearance, tamarind packs an assertively tart wallop. You may have already tasted it blended into tropical fruit punches, piquant bottled sauces, sweet-sour relishes, and chutneys, for its lively character is prized in many Latin and Southeast Asian cuisines.

Tamarind is a good staple for Western kitchens, too. It makes a delicious contribution to a lean first-course soup, baked country-style pork ribs, and a cool dessert sorbet.

However, unless you know tamarind's considerable virtues, its fruit pods aren't very tempting. The large, dry, beanshaped pods are usually pretty beaten up, with some of the brittle tan shell missing and the sticky dark brown fruit and its long fibers exposed. Even so, pods are finding their way from Latin and Asian grocers to produce bins of some super-markets and specialty food shops.

The pods are actually quite easy to deal with, as described on page 216. Choose ones with smooth, soft-looking fruit. As pods get older, the pulp gets more wrinkled, drier, and harder to free from the shell and the big shiny inedible seeds it surrounds.

Tamarind comes in other, more convenient forms as well. The easiest to use is a bottled pulp concentrate. In bricks, pulp and seeds are sold moist and dry (you'll find bricks in stores on the shelf, refrigerated, or frozen). If bricks are salted, salt is listed as an ingredient on the label.

These recipes use unsalted tamarind pulp dissolved in water. You can make this liquid from pods, concentrate, or bricks, as directed on page 216.

Sweet-Sour Tamarind Ribs

Serve with rice to soak up the tart sauce.

3 pounds country-style pork spareribs, cut into serving-size pieces

1 cup tamarind liquid (directions on page 216)

1/4 cup each dry sherry and soy sauce

3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 small onion, minced

Water

Place ribs in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan and cover tightly. Bake in a 400| oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together tamarind liquid, sherry, soy, sugar, ginger, garlic, and onion.

Pour off pan juices. Pour tamarind mixture over meat. Continue to bake, uncovered, until ribs are very tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. Turn meat several times as it bakes.

Transfer ribs to platter. Skim and discard fat from pan juices. Pour juices into a glass measuring cup; if necessary, add hot water to equal 2/3 cup. Pour sauce into a small bowl or pitcher and offer to spoon over individual portions of ribs. Makes 4 or 5 servings.

Tamarind-Mushroom Soup

6 cups regular-strength chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 cup tamarind liquid (directions follow)

6 thin strips lemon peel (yellow part only, each 2 to 3 in. long)

2 cups claim juice (2 bottles, 8 oz. each)

1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, bring broth, garlic, tamarind liquid, lemon peel, clam juice, mushrooms, and onions to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3 minutes to blend flavors.

Stir cilantro into soup, then pour into a tureen or ladle directly into bowls. Makes 10 cups, 6 to 8 servings.

Tamarind Sorbet

1 cup tamarind liquid (directions follow)

1 cup water

About 1/2 cup sugar

In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir together tamarind liquid, water, and sugar to taste. Place over high heat and stir just until sugar dissolves. Pour into a 9-inch square or round pan and let stand until cool. Cover and freeze until firm, overnight or as long as 2 weeks.

Let stand at room temperature to soften slightly if needed, about 5 minutes. Break into chunks with a heavy spoon. Whirl chunks in a food processor, or beat in a bowl with an electric mixer until an icy slush forms.

Serve immediately (it melts quickly) in stemmed glasses or dessert bowls, or cover and freeze as long as a week. Makes 4 servings, 1/2 to 2/3 cup each.

Tamarind Liquid

When purchasing concentrate or bricks, choose unsalted varieties. Wet and dry bricks aren't always labeled as such: wet ones feel quite sticky; dry ones will be just tacky and may contain pieces of pod.

From concentrate. In a small bowl, stir together until smooth 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate and 1 cup boiling water. Makes about 1 cup.

From pods. Squeeze brittle shells of 3/4 pound (35 to 40) dry tamarind pods to break and loosen; pull off as much shell as can be easily removed. Pull and remove loose fibers.

Place pods in a 2- to 3-quart pan with 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes. Using your fingers or a fork, work pulp free from seeds and strings.

Pour mixture into a fine strainer over a bowl. Gently work mixture with back of a spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard seeds, pods, and strings. Makes about 1 cup.

From wet brick. Place 2/3 cup firmly packed wet tamarind brick in a small bowl and add 1 1/3 cups boiling water. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes to soften. With a fork or your fingers, stir and pull apart brick to release and dissolve pulp.

Pour mixture into a fine strainer over a bowl. Gently work mixture with back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard seeds and strings. Makes about 1 cup.

From dry brick. Place 1 cup firmly packed dry tamarind brick in a small bowl and add 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes to soften. With a fork or your fingers, stir and pull apart brick to release and dissolve pulp.

Pour mixture into a fine strainer over a bowl. Gently work mixture with back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard seeds and strings. Makes about 1 cup.

Photo: Tamarind comes in several forms: pods; bricks, either wet (smooth, tacky surface, right) or dry (mottled, drier surface, left); and jars of concentrate

Photo: What's that intriguing tang? Tamarind glaze enhances succulence of baked country-style pork ribs

Photo: Light soup is mahogany-colored tamarind broth with sliced mushrooms, cilantro, and green onions
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1986
Words:1088
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