Thai Stir-Fried Tamarind Shrimp

Tamarind shrimp recipe
Chonticha Koikoy/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • 26 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 6 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Ratings (7)

This Thai shrimp recipe is authentic Thai, yet remarkably simple to make. It's the tamarind that makes this dish sing, so don't be tempted to leave it out (look for tamarind paste at your local Asian or Indian food store); fresh basil and coriander are also key.

The flavors in this dish are wonderfully bold, so be sure to balance them out with plenty of plain steamed rice on the side. Tip: have the rice ready before you start stir-frying, as this dish cooks up quite quickly.

What You'll Need

  • 16-24 medium to large uncooked shrimp/prawns, shells removed (tails can be left on)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated or cut into matchstick pieces
  • generous handful fresh coriander/cilantro, lightly chopped
  • generous handful fresh basil, lightly chopped if leaves are large
  • 1 fresh red chili, minced, OR dried crushed chili (from the spice aisle), to taste
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil or other type vegetable oil for stir-frying
  • Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste (available at Asian and/or Indian food stores)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 or more Tbsp. chili sauce, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

How to Make It

  1. Place tamarind paste in a cup and pour in the hot water, stirring to dissolve the paste. Add remaining stir-fry sauce ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  2. Do a taste-test, adjusting the flavors to your liking. Note that this sauce should taste sweet first, followed by sour and spicy, then salty. Add more sugar if it's still too sour, or a little more tamarind if it's too sweet. Note that it will taste very strong at this point, but will be delicious once combined with the other ingredients.
  1. Place prepared shrimp in a bowl, being sure to drain off any residual water. Pour 1/4 of the stir-fry sauce over shrimp and stir to coat. Set aside.
  2. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl around, then add the garlic and ginger. If using fresh chili, add that now as well. Stir-fry 30 seconds to 1 minute to release the fragrance (avoid browning the garlic or it will turn bitter).
  3. Add the red bell pepper plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of the stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry 2 minutes, or until pepper is bright red and has softened slightly.
  4. Add shrimp plus remaining stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry another 2-3 minutes, or just until shrimp begin to curl inward and are pink and plump. Avoid overcooking the shrimp or they will lose their tenderness.
  5. Remove stir-fry from heat and taste-test it, adding more fish sauce if not flavorful enough. Add more chili for more heat. If it's too sour, add a little more sugar. Serve immediately topped with the fresh coriander and basil, plus plenty of steamed rice on the side.