(Begin 1 hour ahead.)

1 pound tamarind pods
6 ounces vinegar
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces coconut cream
5 tablespoons sugar, or to taste (omit if using sweetened coconut cream or milk)
1 tablespoon butter

In a medium saucepan, boil tamarind pods with 1 quart water, vinegar, salt, chile powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon until liquid is reduced by two thirds. Strain well. Discard pods, and return sauce to flame. Add enough water to refill pan, and simmer until reduced again by two thirds. Lower heat, and stir in coconut cream, sugar, and butter. Simmer to thicken if necessary.


8 seven-ounce kingfish, tuna, or swordfish steaks
Coarse black pepper
Chile powder
Olive oil

Remove veins from steaks. Season both sides heavily with black pepper. Sprinkle with chile powder, dollop both sides with olive oil, and grill. Top with tamarind-and-coconut sauce and serve.

From “The Calypso Kitchen,” originally featured in Domain, Summer 1988