This relish uses tamarind flowers – the flowers are in full bloom during the end of summer and the beginning of the rainy season. Tamarind flowers are mildly sour and give the relish a distinct floral aroma. Although tamarind blossoms are tough to find even in Thai markets, if you – or someone you know – have a tamarind tree in the garden, I strongly recommend trying this dish. In any case, I hope you’ll embrace this recipe as inspiration to create relishes from other sour leaves or flowers.
The tamarind blossoms are quickly stir-fried with pork lard only until they wilt; they can serve as the sole sour element of the relish or be augmented by other citrus juices, mainly lime juice and green mandarin orange juice (น้ำส้มเหม็น).
The ratios of the fermented shrimp paste (kapi), garlic, and palm sugar follow the basic chili relish recipe (น้ำพริกกะปิมาตรฐาน). Use chilies with fruity notes, such as bird’s eye chilies or yellow chilies.
Serve with fresh vegetables or vegetables blanched in pork lard.
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To prepare the tamarind flowers
- 1/2 cup tamarind flowers (ดอกมะขาม)
- 1/2 tablespoon pork lard (น้ำมันหมู)
For the relish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried shrimp pounded to powder (กุ้งแห้งป่น)
- fresh red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง)
- 4 pieces fresh bird’s eye chili (kee noo suan) (พริกขี้หนูสวนสด)
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 3/4 tablespoons palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- 1 tablespoons lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1 tablespoon green mandarin orange juice (น้ำส้มเหม็น) or
- bitter orange juice (som.saa)(น้ำส้มซ่า)
- fresh vegetables (ผักสด)
- vegetables blanched in pork lard (ผักตีน้ำมัน)
- Collect the tamarind flowers and discard any tough stems. Set aside.
- Measure the amount of fermented shrimp paste (kapi), garlic and palm sugar following the ratios of a chili relish recipe (น้ำพริกกะปิมาตรฐาน). Arrange the ingredients next to each other so you can visualize their proportions.
- In a wok over medium-high heat, stir fry the tamarind flowers in pork lard until they are wilted. Set aside.
- Begin preparing the relish in a mortar and pestle the same way you would a basic chili relish – start by pounding the garlic with the kapi and add dried shrimp powder.
- Taste and season with salt and fish sauce. Once you are satisfied with the saltiness of the relish, add the palm sugar at the ratio indicated. Season to a sweet-salty flavor profile.
- Add the chilies; bruise them using the pestle, to release the desired spiciness.
- Mix in the cooked tamarind flowers.
- Taste and adjust sourness with lime juice and green mandarin orange juice.