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Spicy Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 2-1/4 cups

Tamarind’s sour flavor is prized in Thai cooking, and in this sauce it’s balanced by the heat of curry paste and the sweetness of honey. Look for pure tamarind paste concentrate imported from Thailand. Any leftover sauce is wonderful with fish or shrimp.


  • 3 Tbs. grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbs. Thai red curry paste
  • 1-1/4 cups pure tamarind paste concentrate (sometimes labeled Thai sour fruit soup base)
  • 1/4 cup honey; more to taste
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp. tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 1 medium scallion, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per 1 Tbs.
  • Calories (kcal) : 15
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 0
  • Fat (g): 0
  • Saturated Fat (g): 0
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 360
  • Carbohydrates (g): 5
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 0


  • Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water, the tamarind, honey, fish sauce, and chili garlic sauce; bring to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, dilute the tapioca starch or cornstarch with 2 Tbs. water. Whisk into the sauce, and then cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallion and cilantro and sweeten to taste with more honey, if necessary. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature (the sauce will thicken further as it cools). Skim any fat from the surface and discard. Garnish with the sesame seeds.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the sauce up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature.


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