Mix lime, fish sauce, sugar and rice vinegar together for this other-worldly rice noodle dish with tamarind sauce. The exotic flavor of the tamarind plant is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine.
The tamarind tree does not produce pretty fruit. The large dark brown pea-shaped pods are oddly similar to an unpleasant food waste product that comes from our bodies. But, don't let that deter you from harvesting the sweet and sticky pulp that brings magic to Indian, African and Southeast Asian Cuisine. Tamarind is know as an "Indian date" because of its extensive cultivation in the fertile plains of India. The flavor of tamarind is slightly sweet but also sour at the same time and is very potent. If you're a fan of Indian food, you've likely seen tamarind before; it's the main ingredient in the brown sauce that is often served alongside mint chutney at the start of your meal
In this simple noodle dish, the basic ingredients of a Vietnamese noodle salad are bathed in a tangy tamarind sauce. Mix the pungent sauce together and let the flavors meld and develop for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
Rice Noodles with Tangy Tamarind Sauce
2 servings mung bean noodles or rice noodles
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 small red onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled into shavings
10-15 basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
First mix the dressing by combining the tamarind pulp, lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar and garlic in a small bowl or jar with a lid. Stir or shake vigorously and set aside for at least 30 minutes in the fridge (up to three days).
Cook the noodles by bringing 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Cook the rice noodles for 4-6 minutes and be careful not to overcook. Drain and add to a large bowl with the tamarind sauce, carrots, bean sprouts, onions and half the cilantro and basil.
Divide the noodles onto two plates and garnish with the remaining basil and cilantro. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for 4 hours. This salad is also delicious cold.
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Photos by Ally-Jane