Tamarind Beef

"I made up this dish to have one thing on my menu that wasn't spicy," says Chris Yeo. He marinates cubes of beef tenderloin in a sesame-oil mixture so it's even more tender, then adds flavor to the mild beef by searing the pieces in shallot-infused oil. The crispy shallots fried beforehand in the oil make a terrific garnish for the beef.Plus: F&W's Beef Cooking Guide Plus: More Fast Asian Recipes

Tamarind Beef
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins


  • 1/2 cup Asian sesame oil

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 pounds trimmed beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2/3 cup tamarind concentrate (see Note)

  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced


  1. In a large, shallow bowl, combine the sesame oil with 1/4 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the beef and stir to coat with the marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water with the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat; keep warm.

  3. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate.

  4. Add half of the shallot oil to another large skillet and heat both skillets. Drain the meat and add one-fourth to each skillet in an even layer without crowding. Cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a platter. Repeat with the remaining meat. Pour the warm tamarind sauce over the meat, top with the fried shallots and serve.

Make Ahead

The tamarind sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.


Tamarind concentrate is available at Asian markets and at specialty-food stores.

Serve With

Steamed brussels sprouts.

Suggested Pairing

Grenache, one of the most widely planted red-grape varietals in the world, typically has a juicy cherry-raspberry character that pairs well with tangy flavors like tamarind sauce. Good Grenache is available from nearly every warm-climate wine region.

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