2 shallots, cut into 1/8-in.-thick slices, then dried with paper towels
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek* or other chili paste
1 qt. reduced-sodium chicken broth
About 1 tbsp. Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1-in. cubes
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into wedges, then into 1/8-in.-wide matchsticks
2 cups bean sprouts
2/3 pound raw shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), peeled and deveined
Several sprigs rice paddy herb or cilantro, chopped
15 Thai basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 Thai bird chiles or other small hot chiles, chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges
How to Make It
Break off tamarind from brick and soak in 1/3 cup warm water 30 minutes, then push through a sieve and discard solids.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and fry shallots, gently stirring, until golden and crisp, about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Pour all but about 2 tsp. oil into a heatproof bowl (reserve for another use).
Cook garlic in pot over medium heat, stirring, 20 seconds. Add chili paste, broth, 1 cup water, the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid, and tomatoes; bring to a boil, covered.
Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add cabbage, pineapple, bean sprouts, and shrimp; cook just until shrimp curl. Stir in herbs and chiles; serve with shallots and lime wedges.
*Find tamarind pulp and sambal oelek in the Asian aisle of well-stocked grocery stores or at Asian markets.