Sampaloc or Tamarind is one of the most abundant fruit tree growing in the Philippines. They grow almost everywhere in the country in the wild. They aren’t really my top favorite fruit but they are versatile and used primarily in preparing great dishes in Asian cuisine. I remember when I was a kid (those days that we aren’t still talking about protecting animals and stuff like that) my dad would always invite me to come with him and his friends to do hunt wild birds in the nature. Way back , we really don’t need to go far to find wild birds in the forest: we’ve been to Novaliches, Baras and Morong most of the time. While dad is chasing birds with friends (he normally goes back home empty handed ) while I profit gathering fruits, snails and shrimps in the forest. It was really a lot fun. And speaking of gathering fruits, I remember I would go back home with about a sack of tamarind. When they are ripe they just fall on the ground. I love to cook them in sweet caramel and sell them as tamarind candies to my friend.
One of these days I swear, I’ll cook some of these tamarind candies that I missed so badly!
So what are tamarind or Sampaloc? Tamarind are fruit bearing tree indigenous to Tropical Africa. They are extensively used as a souring agent in different dishes. When they are still unripe they can be used as an ingredient to famous Filipino soup dish called Sinigang. The flowers of tamarind (yellows and red) are also good ingredient to replace the unripe fruit as a souring agent for Sinigang. Others prefer to use the latter as they are more subtle and sweeter compared to the tamarind ponds. When tamarind becomes ripe, the pods have fleshy fruit inside that is acidic and sweet at the same time. They can be use to make desserts, candies or flavors for drinks.
Recipes using Tamarind:
Sinigang (Tamarind Soup with meat or Fish)
Pinangat (Fish Stew in Tamarind)
Tamarind Iced Tead
Tamarind sweet candies