Spareribs with Tamarind Glaze

I love tamarind. In Panama we make a drink with it, this isn’t exclusive to my little country, of course. We also process the pulp, mix it with brown sugar and  make it into balls that are then dipped in sugar and sold. It is an incredibly good snack, just thinking about it is making my mouth water.

Speaking of tamarind balls…, when I had just moved to Houston, I had probably been there for a little over a year, I was yearning for Panamanian treats. I used to go to a little store called La Michoacana, it was (is) a primarily Mexican store, but it was the only place I could find ‘some’ of the products and produce I needed for home-cooking.

On one of my visits to the store, I noticed they were selling tamarind balls. Oh Joy!!! I was so excited. A little piece of home…, or so I thought. I got back in my car, heading home after picking up all the essentials, unwrapped the little ball and took a nice, healthy bite of it. . . I almost threw up! They like the tamarind balls in Mexico too, but like many of their treats, they add chili peppers to it. Totally ruining that fix for me, just be happy you weren’t in the car with me that day. I sounded like a sailor.

In any case, I’ve had some tamarind pulp sitting in the pantry for a few weeks now, planning to get to it. The wait is over. I decided to cook with it, instead of limiting it to sweeter applications. These pork spareribs turned out finger-licking OHMYGAWD good! I recommend you plan ahead for these so you can marinate the ribs as I did.

Day Before Prep:

Dilute the tamarind paste in water. I used about 1/2 cp of the pulp and diluted it in about 3 cps of hot water. Let it sit there for a bit to help the pulp separate from the seeds. Once the water has cooled, strain it and use a spoon to help remove more of the pulp from the seeds. Discard the seeds and reserve the concentrated juice.

For the marinade:

In a bowl or large ziploc bag combine
1 cp tamarind concentrate
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp habanero paste (or habanero hot sauce)
2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp fresh ginger, slivered
2 tsp garlic paste (crushed garlic)

Mix all these ingredients well, then add the pork spareribs. For the recipe I used about 3 lbs. of bone-in pork spareribs. Make sure all the ribs are coated and refrigerate at least 12 hours, preferably overnight. Turn the ribs a couple of times to make sure they all soak up the marinade.

Day of – Cooking:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with foil paper and lay out the ribs in a single layer. Make sure to remove any chunks of ginger you see. Cover with foil and bake the ribs for 1-1/2 hours.

In the meantime, prepare the glaze. Once the ribs have cooked for the first 90 minutes, remove from the oven and drain and reserve the liquid. Return them to the oven uncovered.

Tamarind Glaze
2 cps tamarind concentrate (whatever is left, plus some water)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, crushed
1/3 cp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed (garlic paste)
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cp green onions, diced (greens & whites)
1-1/2 tsp habanero paste or hot sauce
Cooking juices from the ribs
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

Heat a medium saucepan, add a bit of oil to coat the bottom, then add all the white pieces of the green onions and half of the greens. Allow to cook for 1 or 2 minutes, just long enough to soften, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the salt.

Stir well and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Allow it to simmer over medium low heat, stirring every so often until it begins to thicken. Once the glaze thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, add the rest of the green onions and remove it from the heat. Set aside.

After the ribs have cooked through and begin to get tender (about 90 minutes), raise the oven’s temperature to 450° and generously brush the ribs with the glaze on one side. Return them to the oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes. Flip the ribs, glaze the other side and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Finally remove them from the oven, flip and glaze them once more, but just let them sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

I sprinkled a bit more of finely chopped green onions just before serving and accompanied them with some Bacon Potatoes.  They were tangy, sweet and sticky good!

Cookingly yours,


57 thoughts on “Spareribs with Tamarind Glaze

  1. Jay-lo says:

    I think this sounds like a great receipe! Question, is tamarind sold already processed? If I dont add the habanero will it take away from the flavor? My family wont eat spicy foods. Last question is Kosher salt ok to use instead of sea salt?

    • J-lo– Yes, you can find tamarind pulp in stores. The HEB near me has a really good international section, I’ve found it there. If not, let me know when and I’ll go with you to the Asian market. They always have it there.

      As for the habanero, you can skip it all together, but I must say this amount will not make this spicy, there was barely a kick to the finished dish.

      Kosher salt will work. Any salt works, but if you’re using regular salt, you’ll want to use a bit less.

      • Jay-lo says:

        ACP, thanks for the information. Pretty soon we should visit HEB so I can know what to buy. Since the habanero isnt too spicy I may just go with it. Can you tell me what the taste of tamarind compares to? I’ve never had it and wanted to know how to compare.

  2. I buy the tamarind fresh or the paste. Jugo de tamarindo very refreshing and also when “piragua” man (sold ice cones with syrup) used to come around…I would always have the tamarino.

    This recipe sound finger likin’ good.

    • Norma, I haven’t been able to find fresh tamarind here, at least not often. And when I did, it was all dried up. BOO! I do love the paste, though, skipping a step is always good.

      Are piraguas what we call raspado? Essentially shaved ice, but different from the sno-cones I’ve had in Houston. In Panama, the ice is like fine crushed ice. It is then flavored with natural fruit juices, condensed milk, miel de palo, and malted powder. YUM!

      • bonnie says:

        My first snowcone w/sweetened condensed milk was in the park in downtown Panama City, when I lived there in the early 70s! Several years later I lived in New Orleans and introduced my 3 year old daughter to snowballs made the same way. My second daughter grew up and bought snow-ball machines and a concession trailer in Winter Park, Florida!

    • Lisa, these were pork spareribs, thanks for asking. I’ve updated the recipe. My next try will be with chicken, I think it will be fabulous too and probably won’t require as much marinating time. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. lifeinarecipe says:

    This recipe looks so amazing! I can’t wait to try it. Great blog. I am so happy I came across it!

  4. Wawa says:

    I love tamarind! I have a jar of tamarind concentrate that I picked up at a little middle eastern market to use for a chutney recipe, but now I’m searching for other recipes to throw it into. It’s very thick, like molasses and the only ingredients are tamarind and water. Any idea how much of that I would want to use if I subbed for your 1/2 of straight pulp? How watery is the final liquid once you strain it?

    • Wawa, it’s tough to say how much of the concentrate to use. I can tell you that what I used was really strong, too strong to drink straight, but the consistency was watery. Do you know if your concentrate has any sugars added? I would say you want it to be the consistency of a juice concentrate…, heavier/thicker than water but runnier than syrup. Hope that helps some.

  5. This recipe looks delicious. I’m definitely going to have a go at it. I may even try the glaze on pork chops.

    I love Tamarind and often buy Jarritos Tamarind flavored soda at La Michoacana here in Dallas. I highly suggest picking some up at the La Michoacana in Houston. I’m sure they have it too.

    Thanks for the neat recipe!

  6. Very dangerous – looks so good – no wonder professional food photographers don’t tend to photograph real food – looks wonderful – maybe Sunday, too many receipes have been piling up 🙂

  7. anamaris, this looks amazing! did i just see this on foodbuzz? i swear i remember seeing the title “tamarind glaze”. if so, kudos sister!

  8. Miz Dee says:

    Gaaawsh! I could totally see myself eating this! love it love it love it! I tried a similar recipe that called for tamarind paste, shallots, fish sauce, sugar and a bit of congac (for the dipping sauce). it’s very vietnamese in taste – instead of the curry in this recipe – but awesome too 🙂

  9. sayitinasong says:

    Seriously… I am so hungry I can see double and then you do this to me…!
    F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S recipe!

  10. Come to think of it, this post reminds me to look for ribs in my small town. I’ll be blogging about oriental-styled ribs as soon as I can. By the way, thanks for making me drool. I’m underweight and I need the extra calories!

  11. That’s a good recipe! I live in Mexico and you are right they love their Tamarindo candies covered in slat, limon and chile!! (like so many other foods here! :)) Although I quite like it.

  12. Phil says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    Try tamarind & vietnamese fish sauce with fried fish!
    It’s guaranteed delicious!

  13. marcelina says:

    Ay Anamaris, that sounds, and looks “Delicioso”. I’m curious to see how this recipe will turn out using chicken instead. Looking forward to more!!!

  14. The Gastronomer says:

    Hey there. Chanced upon your blog and i must say, your entries are amazing & diverse. I have a food blog too,, but still young and amateur-ish. Really do hope to learn more from you and your recipes. Do pay me a visit and offer some advice 😀

  15. That’s a good recipe! I live in Mexico and you are right they love their Tamarindo candies covered in slat, limon and chile!! (like so many other foods here! 🙂 ) Although I quite like it.

  16. Would it be rude to want to lick the screen! My husband is Mexican and he loves the flavor of Tamarind, I must admit to not never having used it. I need to change that, I need to make this soon. I found you from YBR, I will be back if you make food this wonderful!

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