Thai Tamarind Chicken Stir Fry

Close up of stir-fried Thai chicken in bowl plus chopsticks
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Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Most Thai recipes are a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy, and this recipe is the epitome of this flavor combination. 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, this savory chicken dish will satisfy even the biggest of appetites. Just serve with rice and you have a complete, flavorful, and nutritious meal.


  • For the Chicken Stir-Fry:
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (or 2 boneless chicken breasts; sliced into bite-size pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch powder
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 thumb-size pieces galangal (or ginger, sliced into matchstick-like pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 6 to 8 mushrooms (fresh shiitake, sliced)
  • 1 handful fresh basil (or fresh coriander/cilantro)
  • ​​For the Tamarind Sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste 
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium or no sodium chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 fresh green chilies (or red; or 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • For Serving: steamed Thai jasmine rice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place sliced chicken in a bowl. Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and pour over. Stir well to saturate the chicken with the sauce. Set aside to marinate while you make the tamarind sauce.

  3. Make the tamarind stir-fry sauce by mixing the tamarind paste, chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar, and chilies in a small bowl.

  4. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high or medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil then add the garlic, galangal or ginger, and the chicken along with the marinade.

  5. 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.

  6. Add the mushrooms then start adding the tamarind sauce 2 to 3 tablespoons 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.

  7. Remove from heat and serve with fresh basil sprinkled over and plenty of Thai jasmine rice.


  • The use of low or no sodium chicken stock is in order to prevent the dish from being too salty, given the soy sauce that is already added to the dish. By using a no salt added chicken stock, you can better control the final salt and seasoning level of the finished dish. If you only have regular stock on hand, we recommend cutting back on the soy sauce to 2 tablespoons to start, and adjusting with more as needed.
  • It is very important that you taste-test and adjust the seasonings. This is all about 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.

Recipe Variation

In addition to the mushrooms (or in place of them), add your choice of vegetables to this stir-fry. Spring onions, snow peas, and bell peppers are all tasty options.