Thai Tamarind Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

Close up of stir-fried Thai chicken in bowl plus chopsticks
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Ratings (31)
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1776 Calories
96g Fat
40g Carbs
181g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Most Thai recipes are a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy, and this recipe is the epitome of this delectable description, although you can choose to make the dish mild (without chilies) and it will still turn out wonderful and rich-tasting. Stir-fried with plenty of fresh shiitake mushrooms (or the mushrooms of your choice), this savory chicken dish will satisfy even the biggest of appetites. Just serve with rice and you have a complete, nutritious meal that tastes like true Thai food should: amazing.


  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp cornstarch powder dissolved in 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 tbsp oil for stir-frying
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 thumb-size pieces galangal or ginger, sliced into matchstick-like pieces
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 6 to 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced, or your own choice of mushrooms to equal 1 to 2 cups
  • a handful fresh basil or fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • ​​Tamarind Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste 
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 to 2 fresh red or green chilies, or 1/4 to 3/4 tsp chili flakes (1/4 tsp = mild)

Steps to Make It

  1. Place sliced chicken in a bowl and pour over the cornstarch and soy sauce mixture. Stir well to saturate chicken with the sauce. Set near the stove to marinate while you make the tamarind sauce.

  2. Make the tamarind stir-fry sauce by mixing all ingredients together in a cup. (The tamarind paste and sugar should more or less dissolve in the stock and fish sauce. If your paste is very thick, you may want to heat up the stock to help dissolve it.) Also set near the stove.

  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high or medium-high heat. Drizzle in oil, then add the garlic, galangal or ginger and chicken (together with its cornstarch/soy sauce marinade).

  4. Stir-fry about 2 to 3 minutes, or until chicken is opaque when sliced through. Add a little sherry (1 tablespoon at a time) as you stir-fry, whenever the pan starts to become dry.

  5. Add the mushrooms, plus start adding the tamarind sauce 2 to 3 tablespoon at a time. Continue stir-frying in this way until all the sauce has been added and the chicken and mushrooms are cooked about 4 to 5 minutes.

  6. Remove from heat. It is very important that you taste-test and adjust the seasonings. What you're looking for is a taste similar to "sweet and sour" - a pleasantly tangy flavor. You may have to add up to 1 tablespoon fish sauce (instead of salt) and another tablespoon or 2 of sugar in order to take the sour edge off the tamarind flavor, which is very strong, but excellent once balanced with sweet and salty flavors. This is a very individual kind of preference - if you like sour, you may not need to add more sugar. If the dish isn't spicy enough for you, add a little more fresh chili (or ​chili sauce). If it turns out too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice. Note that the sourness factor also depends on how thick or strong your tamarind paste is.

  7. Serve with fresh basil sprinkled over and plenty of Thai jasmine rice.