Learn how to make tamarind juice (đá me), a tasty, refreshing and thirst-quenching Vietnamese drink at home. This sweet-tangy juice may be your next summer favorite!
What is Tamarind
Tamarind pods are fruits of tamarind tree. They are brown with a sticky, tangy pulp. The name in Vietnamese is quả me (or trái me). The pulp is used extensively in Southeast Asian cuisines as well as others around the world. Some cuisines even use the young leaves in cooking.
In Vietnamese cuisine, tamarind is usually used to make sour soup (canh chua). It can also be made into snacks or drinks such as this iced tamarind juice. The drink is popular in the South of Vietnam. Watch how easy it is to make it in the video below.
The main ingredients are tamarind pulp, sugar, ginger, water and plenty of ice. Ginger will give the drink a pleasant and light fragrance.
You can find the pulp at Asian grocery stores. It usually still contains seeds and fibers so we will need to do some prep work, which is actually really quick and easy.
It is common to use roasted peanuts and toasted coconut flakes as toppings for this drink in Vietnam. They add more flavors as well as some exciting crunch. I think you will be surprised by how well the toppings complement the juice (I was!).
How to Extract Tamarind Pulp
Whenever you use tamarind pulp in a recipe, the first step is always extracting and removing the seeds and fibers. To do that, cover the pulp with warm water. If you have time, leave the pulp to soften, but it’s much quicker to just use your fingers to loosen, squeeze and mash it.
Then push the mixture through a mesh strainer with your fingers (or a spatula, scraper or wooden spoon) to separate the seeds and fibers from the paste. For this particular drink, we will repeat these steps one more time with the extracted seeds and fibers.
Making the Drink
The next step will be simmering the extracted tamarind liquid with ginger and sugar for 30-35 minutes until it reduces in half into a concentrate. Here’s why we do this step:
- We need sufficient time to infuse the tamarind concentrate with ginger fragrance.
- The tamarind concentrate can be kept for a long time in the refrigerator. Whenever you want to mix the juice, you will need just 1-2 minutes once you already have the concentrate.
I keep my tamarind concentrate in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. You can see how it looks in the photo below, kinda like applesauce or thin jam.
When you want to serve đá me, add 1-2 tablespoons of concentrate, a bit of water and lots of ice to your serving glass. Top with roasted peanuts and toasted coconut flakes. The bright, sweet tangy and thirst-quenching tamarind juice is now ready!
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Iced Tamarind Juice (Đá Me)
For the Concentrate
- 5 oz tamarind pulp
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 thumb-sized chubby piece of ginger, lightly smashed (about 1 oz)
- 4.5 oz granulated sugar (about heaping 1/2 cup or to taste)
For Each Glass of Juice
- 1½-2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 1/3 cup water
- plenty of ice (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 teaspoons roasted unsalted peanuts
- 2 teaspoons toasted coconut flakes (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, add tamarind pulp and 1 cup of warm water (the water does not need to be very hot). Use your fingers to loosen, squeeze and separate the seeds and fibers from the tamarind paste. Make sure the water is not too hot for your hand.
- Place a mesh strainer over a saucepan. Push the mixture through the strainer with your fingers (or a spatula, scraper or wooden spoon) to separate the seeds and fibers from the paste. You can watch the video in the post to see how to do it.
- Repeat the above steps for seeds and fibers just extracted. Place them in the mixing bowl, add 1 cup of water. Use your fingers to squeeze and then pour the mixture through the mesh strainer.
- Place the saucepan with all the liquid from tamarind over medium heat. Add sugar and ginger. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and skim off any foams.
- Cover the saucepan with the lid slightly askew. Maintain a gentle simmer for 30-35 minutes until the mixture reduces in half into a concentrate (about 3/4 cup – 1 cup of concentrate).
- Transfer the tamarind concentrate to a container. You can make the juice right away or refrigerate and keep it for a long time and make the juice later.
- To make the drink: add 1½ – 2 tablespoons of concentrate to a serving glass, add 1/3 cup of water then stir to combine. Add a lot of ice and top the drink with roasted peanuts and toasted coconut flakes.