We start the preparation for this delicious paste the night before by soaking tamarind, so that we can squeeze out the flavour in the morning. Chillies are also soaked overnight to remove any impurities and to encourage a smooth blend for this mild paste.
When we arrive back in the kitchen the next morning we are greeted by our delivery of fresh ingredients from the markets including fresh Australian brown onions, lemongrass, tomatoes, ginger and garlic to name a few.
The onions and other fresh ingredients are chopped or blended in a number of batches until they are ready for the cooking pot.
One pan is heated to a high temperature with a combination of canola and peanut oils setting off a fragrant base for the fresh ingredients to cook in. The onions are added and caramelised with butter and salt.
In another pan, Latasha dry toasts some crumbled shrimp paste and then add it to the cooking pot to cook with the onions.
As the onions continue to cook, Latasha weighs a variety of whole spices and these are dry toasted one at time until they release their oils. The spices are cooled and then blended to a fine ground mixture in Latasha’s spice mill which is never far from her.
At this stage the rest of the kitchen team are working at a furious pace to get a variety of other essential fresh aromatics crushed, minced and blended including garlic, lemongrass, galangal and turmeric. Tamarind juice is whisked then strained to the required measurement.
Once the onions are ready, each of the ingredients are added slowly whilst the mixture is hand turned. Once this is complete, the pot setting is turned to automatic to agitate the ingredients at a slow steady pace.
The dried toasted spice mixture is poured in with coconut oil to stop the ingredients from sticking to much to the sides of the vessel.
Australian a-grade crushed peanuts, palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut milk and tamarind juice are all added and the mixture is brought to the boil rapidly on a controlled setting to ensure a thorough mix.
Tastings are done regularly to ensure the balance of flavours are captured. Latasha and the head of production work together to ensure a shelf stable product has been captured without compromising the strong robust flavours. pH testings are completed and the team quickly shuffles and jostles around the place to get ready for bottling.
Making it cooler: This can be cooled with sweet potatoes, pumpkin, additional fresh Asian herbs, coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut powder or carnation coconut milk.