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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Tamarind pulp can be found as cellophane-wrapped, sun-dried bricks in Asian, Latin, and Indian markets. Tamarind pulp is the sticky interior of pods that grow on a variety of evergreen tree originally native to Africa. Tamarind, which is very intense in flavor, lends sweet-and-sour notes to dishes. Because the pulp usually contains seeds, you should always strain it before use. Pull off an amount appropriate to your needs and soak it in warm, purified water for about 15 minutes. Then strain the pulp and liquid through a fine-mesh colander into a bowl to catch the usable diluted pulp, leaving the seeds and fibers caught in the mesh. [Discard whats left in the strainer.]
This is by far the most popular first course at our restaurant. I have to admit that it was somewhat inspired by Roxanne Klein’s Pad Thai, in which she uses a bit of tamarind together with a spicy almond sauce. I had never really worked with collard greens before, but they were the biggest leaves I could find at the store, and happily they are a very sturdy, perfect wrapper. We make these to order at the restaurant, although they are still seriously yummy as leftovers the following day.
1. In a small bowl, mix the cashews, sesame oil, and salt and set aside.
2. In a Vita-Mix or high-speed blender, puree the maple syrup, lemon juice, ginger, red chile, and nama shoyu. Add the almond butter and blend at low speed to combine. Add water to thin if necessary, to get a thick, cake batter like consistency.
3. In a medium bowl, add the shredded cabbage and the almond butter mixture and toss well to combine (this is easiest if you use your hands).
4. Cut out the center rib of each collard green leaf, dividing the leaf in half. Place 1 half leaf on a cutting board with the underside facing up. Arrange a few tablespoons of the cabbage mixture evenly across the bottom third of the leaf, leaving about 1½ inches clear at the bottom. Sprinkle some of the chopped cashews over the cabbage. Lay a few sticks of carrot, a few strips of mango, and a few sprouts on top. Add a few leaves each of cilantro, basil, and mint. Fold the bottom of the collard leaf up and over the filling, keeping it tight, and tuck the leaf under the ingredients and roll forward. Place the roll seam side down on a serving dish. Repeat with remaining collard leaves and ingredients. Serve with the tamarind dipping sauce.
Place the tamarind pulp, maple syrup, nama shoyu, and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of salt if necessary. Place in a separate bowl and set aside. This sauce may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. It can also be frozen if you have leftovers or want to make it in advance.
Nutritional information is based on 12 servings.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)