Make these spicy tamarind spare ribs ahead of time for the best flavour

Spicy tamarind pork is best enjoyed with rice or slices of baguette.
Spicy tamarind pork is best enjoyed with rice or slices of baguette.PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

(THE NEW PAPER) - For a dish with an appetising tang, try spicy tamarind pork. It is best to enjoy it with rice or slices of baguette.

If you like more gravy, use more water and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Spare ribs are more economical than prime ribs and they are leaner, but they can be quite tender too if you cook them long enough.

I find that this dish is best eaten the next day when the meat thoroughly soaks up the flavours of the gravy.

This is perfect for cooking on weekends, in advance for a weekday dinner. Freeze it if you do not plan to consume it within two days. Simply defrost and reheat when you want to eat it.


200ml oil for deep-frying

2 potatoes (300g), peeled and cut into 6 pieces each

2 garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise

800g pork ribs (spare ribs), cut into 6cm by 6cm pieces

1 litre of water

4 kaffir lime leaves

2 tbsp of tamarind pulp

150ml water (for tamarind juice)

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp dark soya sauce

2 tsp salt

1 green finger chilli, sliced


20g dried chillies, soaked in hot water until softened

3 candlenuts

10g fresh turmeric root, chopped

10g ginger, chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced (use 5cm of the white root part)

1 garlic clove

180g shallots

1 heaped tbsp toasted belacan


1. Heat oil over medium heat. Place the potato chunks in oil, fry for five minutes then turn over and fry for another five minutes until potato is cooked and tender. Remove from oil and place on kitchen paper to drain oil. Set aside.

2. Place sliced garlic in oil and fry for a minute until golden. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain. Set aside. Reserve four tablespoons of oil and discard the rest.

3. Soak tamarind pulp in 150ml of water for 10 minutes then strain. Save the juice.

4. Grind ingredients of spice paste together. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick to grind. Remove the spice paste from the grinder.

5. Heat the four tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the spice paste and lower the heat to medium-low. Fry the spice paste for 10 minutes until it is thick and fragrant. Add the ribs and fry for three minutes.

6. Add the litre of water and boil.

7. Add the kaffir lime leaves.

8. Add the tamarind juice, dark soya sauce, sugar and salt. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 25 minutes until the ribs are cooked and tender.

9. Add the fried potato and mix well.

10. Garnish with fried garlic sliced and green chilli before serving.