In my mind, every Christmas table needs two saucey elements: something chunky and fruity, and a smooth, flavourful gravy. Obviously this is the prior…and it is inspired by that classic Cantonese pairing of duck and plum with zingy tamarind.
I’ve included this recipe as a part of my Christmas menu however I pretty much always have some of this in the fridge or freezer! It makes an absolutely delicious stir-fry sauce as well – oohh….san choy bao with the Xmas leftovers, anyone!?Jump to Recipe
Tips and Tricks
The flavour of this stuff really develops the longer it rests. I wholeheartedly recommend making it at least on Christmas Eve if you can. Or double it up and make it earlier in the week – it’ll save you time on the big day!
I’m not massive on star anise and so I make sure to only leave that and the cinnamon stick in for about 20 minutes, just enough to fully impart its flavour without getting too heavy. Then I let the texture figure itself out with a little black pepper.
- Small saucepan
- Clean jar Roughly 250ml size.
- 1/4 cup Tamarind pulp
- 1/2 cup Hot water Plus extra as needed; up to 1 cup.
- 3 tbsp Muscovado sugar Substitute: brown, cane, coconut sugar.
- 2 Black plums Large.
- 1 tbsp Hoisin sauce If you follow a gluten-free diet, look for a tamari based hoisin.
- 1/2 Star anise If you're a big fan, add in a whole pod.
- 1 Cinnamon stick Roughly 2" long.
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce There are vegan substitutes on the market or replace with 1 tsp tamari/low sodium light soy sauce.
- Coarse black pepper
- If you have the time, it’s great to make this in advance as the flavours really strengthen over time.
- Soak 2-3 tbsp of pulp in the hot water for five minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bash around the seeds a bit to loosen up the pulp.
- Roughly dice the plums – there is no need to be precise, a rough chop gives us a nice texture.
- Strain the tamarind water and pulp into the saucepan; discard the seeds but retain as much pulp as you can and add to the saucepan.
- Add in the plums, star anise, cinnamon, hoisin, sugar and fish sauce.
- If your plums are quite watery, just add a splash of water to get things stewing down. If they are unripe and a bit more tough, start with ½ cup and add more if needed to stew the fruit down.
- Bring to a quick boil to melt the sugar and then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 20minutes. Keep an eye to make sure the mix isn’t burning; if it gets too sticky right away, add the odd splash of water.
- Discard the star anise and cinnamon. Add a large pinch of black pepper to taste.
- Continue to stew for another 10-20 minutes until you have a nice, thickened mixture. Smash the plums a little to get the desired texture (it will only stiffen a little after cooling), pour into a clean jar to cool, and set aside until ready to serve.
- The chutney keeps really well, even when opened, for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Add a couple of tablespoons into your next stir-fry or incorporate into your next cheeseboard for a fresh new flavour!
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