It’s been so fun exploring all the local markets here in Thailand. Learning where they are, which ones have the best prices, the best selection etc. There is an awesome produce market within walking distance or a short scooter ride from our condo and I went a little crazy the other day buying produce. I try to have a plan usually of what I’m going to make with it before hand, but I bought soooooo many cherry tomatoes because they were so inexpensive and looked so good. I buy Thai basil constantly just to have it on hand because it’s about 5 to 7 baht for a bunch with 10-12 stems. In USD, that’s about 15-20 cents. So this jam was born by a desire to be resourceful by using up some of my produce that I had on hand after a little Thai farmers market spree, but has honestly become our new favorite condiment.
I’ve had tomato jams in the past that are almost candy-sweet and the skins, seeds, and cores of the tomatoes have been removed, either steamed off the tomatoes before being added to the jam, or reserved with a fine mesh sieve after cooking. But I wanted this jam to be 1) easy 2) be a little less sweet, a little more savory and 3) have some textural components. So, I used the entire cherry tomato, seeds, skins and all. We’re not bothered at all by the tomato skins or seeds in this jam, in fact we quite enjoy it, and along with the basil ribbons and diced onion, it’s definitely more of a chunky jam.
If you want some suggestions as to what to eat it with, I recommend using as an accompaniment to a cheese plate, with crackers or veggies, or on biscuits/ savory scones with whipped goat cheese or cream cheese. It's ridiculous on grilled cheese sandwiches. But one of our favorite ways to enjoy it has been on breakfast sandwiches! This jam, with it’s slight sweetness and acidity is the perfect accompaniment to eggs. I toast a little bun or biscuit, slather this jam generously on it, and top with a fried egg or a slice of sheet pan eggs (which is a genius idea I got from Food 52 here and you should definitely try it). It’s my favorite make-ahead mid week brekky situation right now.
This is a small batch refrigerator/freezer jam recipe because it was an attempt to quickly use up produce on hand and I didn’t want to make a large production out of it. I also didn’t want to have to worry about sealing the jar to store it for later because we wanted to eat it ASAP but if you wanted to scale this recipe to make multiple jars, seal them properly, and save them for later, you most certainly could! This recipe yields about 16 oz, and just filled just one pint size jar. I would recommend eating it within 3 weeks, which should be no problem for a spread this versatile and delicious.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1 lb (about 450 grams) cherry/plum tomatoes
1 small (or 1/2 a large) yellow onion
1/2 cup roughly chopped sweet Thai basil leaves*
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
up to 1/2 cup water, or as needed
*Here in Thailand, Thai basil is just basil. The basil as we know it in America or Europe is much rarer to come by and it’s definitely more expensive. Often there are two types of Thai basil available, both sweet and hot, and what I used here was the sweet. If your local grocery store doesn’t sell Thai basil, or regular basil is more affordable/ attainable for you, feel free to use that here instead.
WHAT YOU'LL DO
First, wash thoroughly and then chop all the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Very small ones can be halved. Dice the onion. Put the tomatoes and onion in a medium shallow saucepan on medium-high heat and begin to cook, uncovered for about 5 minutes while you get all the other ingredients ready. The onions will start to sweat and the tomatoes soften and release their juices.
Add the rest of the ingredients besides the water, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 20-30 minutes. The mixture should darken in color and thicken considerably. Measure out roughly 1/3 of the jam and pulse in a food processor or blender and add the puree back into the jam. (Alternately you could use a few pulses of an immersion blender). Continue cooking on medium heat, as it bubbles and thickens even more. After 10 more minutes, taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Note: My mixture got rather thick before I thought it was quite done cooking, so after I had checked for seasoning, I poured in 1/2 cup water and continued cooking the mixture down for an additional 8-10 minutes. Most of the liquid burned off again, and I was at my desired consistency. But you may not feel that this is a necessary step for you at all.
Remove from heat and fill a sanitized (pint sized) jar or sterile glass container with your jam!
Put it on anything. Seriously though. Just about anything. Or eat it with a spoon.
Not that I’ve done that or anything...
Enjoy for up to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.