Tamarind paste in Toronto?
I've looked at previous threads suggesting stores to purchase tamarind paste but haven't managed to track it down in Toronto. I've checked out the Cherry Beach T&T and various health food and bulk stores as well as regular Loblaws/No Frills. One of the problems is that I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for: can anyone let me know what aisle or section it can be found in in a store, what it generally will look like, and whether there are any particular brand names?
Well T&T has it as I saw it last week. I don't recall the exact aisle number but its just towards the back and is in the same isle as where they keep a lot of Indonesian, Philipine and Malaysian spice mix and condiments. Sorta the first aisle after the frozen section (they have cooking utensils right opposite) That being said you can find it in Loblaws as well. It should be in the ethnic aisle next to Indian/Pakistani spices etc. One can always ask a sales associate for its location.
Googling it turns up plenty of images so here is one
i bought paste at a store on spadina, in chinatown. there's two larger stores on the east side of spadina, just north of dundas. it's the first one that one would encounter (spilling onto the side walk) while heading up from dundas. though the other should have it too.
it was last summer though, and i can't recall which aisle. just ask a cashier
I live in Windsor and always buy the blocks of paste in either Vietnamese shops or stores that cater to the Arabic communities. The Vietnamese shops also sell the liquid paste in screw-top plastic containers. This type is definitely more convenient, but I find I always have to strain it through a fine sieve, as there are gritty bits that do not dissolve.
There are three similar products that you might be looking for. The most common is this:
These are blocks of tamarind pulp and seeds. You must soak this in hot water and then strain and press through a seive to extract the pulp from the seeds. It is a bit of work, but you get a pure tamarind taste and this product is really easy to find (at place such as any Indian grocer, T&T, many large general grocery stores like a large urban Loblaws, and lots of other places).
The second product is SE Asian Tamarind concentrates:
There are a few brands of this with differing graphics; however, they all seem to come in these small plastic screw-topped tubs in this particular pale blue colour (or sometimes in brown). This a great product as it saves all the soaking and straining. However, sometimes the tamarind flavour is a little more sour than the block and sometimes there is added salt so that the concentrate can't be used for sweet items as well. However, this is the thing to have on hand for a quick mid-week Pad Thai or dal with tamarind.
Lastly, there is an Indian product from Tamicon:
It is a thick, dark, molasses-like product that has a strong caramel/roasted taste. This product is used to make chutneys or to sour and brighten a long-cooking curry. However, I find this product very hard to use judiciously (it is easy to put too much as it is so concentrated) and I, therefore, tend to stick to the blocks of tamarind for such uses (often combined with lime juice).