Thai Tamarind Chicken Stir Fry

Close up of stir-fried Thai chicken in bowl plus chopsticks
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  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 2 to 3 servings

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 as true Thai food should.


  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, or 2 boneless chicken breasts (sliced into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch powder dissolved in 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil (for stir-frying)
  • 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)
  • Handful of fresh basil or fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • ​​Tamarind Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste 
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 fresh red or green chilies (or 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon chili flakes - 1/4 teaspoon = mild)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 thick, you may want to heat up the stock to help dissolve it.) Set near the stove.

  4. 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.

  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, plus 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.


    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.

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