I am going to attempt to make Pad Thai at home, however the recipe I'm using calls for tamarind paste and I can't find it anywhere! I found Tamarind Soup Base in a packet - can this be used as a substitute? If so, do I need to mix it with water to make it into a paste, and would it be the same amount the recipe calls for?
Thanks in advance!
You can find tamarind paste at almost all indian and asian markets. They usually come in a small opaque white plastic jar with a red lid.
I would not substitute tamarind soup base -- that probably has all sorts of spices and herbs added to it.
In Middle Eastern cooking catsup and lemon juice is a common sub for tamarind. In Pad Thai the tamarind is giving the sour component. If you can not find tamarind you could try catsup and lime juice and combine with the palm sugar and fish sauce to balance the 3 key tastes. I think this is why catsup is used a lot in Pad Thai. Also is you have worcestershire sauce on hand it is full of tamarind paste so maybe a few shakes would be good to add to your sub for tamarind. I agree the soup base may have a lot of spices and herbs but you never know it could work well.
You may also see a solid block of tamarind (texture of dates smashed together) that you have to process but I have found the tamarind concentrate in the plastic to be much more convenient and no diff in taste. I bought some at Bangkok 54 last week called Asian Best Concentrated cooking tamarind. Also available at hispanic stores- is used to make a drink.
Forgot to mention about Thai curry paste. You are not looking for powders, you are looking for paste. I recommend Mae Ploy brand. Don't bother making your own paste- you'll see recipes for it but people in Thailand use the premade pastes them so don't feel unauthentic!! My brother lives in Thailand and teaches cooking. He says ok to use commercial pastes. You'll only need a small amount. Start with 1 T per 2 cups of liquid (stock mixed with cocoanut milk) and then taste.
I've also been trying out this recent Pad Thai recipe.
I have an unopened plastic jar labeled Concentrate Cooking Tamarind (nuoc me chua) that has "Sour Soup Base Mix" in parentheses. The jar also say Lee Brand on it. Anyway, the only ingredients there are tamarind and water. So it's worth checking ingredients.
If this stuff is as good as that tamarind pulp (which I also bought and have used), that would be nice. But I find the pulp to be relatively easy to use: I soaked it in warm water for about ten minutes and then used my potato ricer like a huge garlic press to get the flavored fluid without the leftover pulp solids.