Roast Duck in Thai Red Curry Sauce

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This an exotic dish, at least to those less familiar with Thai cooking.

I have yet to apply a difficulty rating to the recipes here but this will not fit the category of 'difficult.' At least to me, it is a whole lot faster and easier to make than our local Nonya Curry Chicken.

If green curry is commonly associated with chicken, red curry seems to go with duck. Both of them are the stars in popular Thai cuisine and this dish is a good way to introduce Thai cuisine to a newcomer. Infuse with the incredible fragrance of Sweet Basil leaves, this dish is a sure winner.

Now, if you intend on roasting your own duck, the difficulty rating will hit the insane level. I do not see why you would want to do that as it plays second fiddle to the curry. And roast duck stalls are aplenty in Singapore. In fact duck is so popular here that there is one that is used to ferry foreigners around.

Store bought Red Curry paste. I got this from the small market shops at the ground level.
This is 'brandless' as the owner made it herself
Now, if you want to make your own red curry paste, believe it or not, the difficulty rating won't go insane. You may want to make your own if you intend on using red curry regularly (as in most Thai households) as it is cheaper that way. You can prepare a whole lot and fridge or freeze them. If it is only for rare occasions, it is easier to buy the paste.

Good Thai paste (green, red, panaeng, massaman etc) can be bought locally. The Golden Mile Complex is a great place for all things Thai. Veg like basil leaves are cheaper there and you can get many interesting ingredients like Thai garlic (small and fragrant), palm sugar, baby egg plants, young galangal etc. If you don't fancy making a trip there, supermart brands like Dancing Chef are pretty good. 

Chilis, Pineapple and Sweet Basil leaves. Move your nose closer to your screen..can you smell the basil?
This recipe is guided by and adapted from The Principles of Thai Cookery by Chef McDang.


Roast Duck in Thai Red Curry Sauce Recipe
To serve 6


Half roast duck, deboned and sliced. Skin on.
A bowl of cubed fresh pineapple
Half a bowl of cherry or small tomatoes

Curry ingredients:
3 tablespoons Red Curry Paste
1 packet of coconut cream
6-8 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
4 tablespoons palm sugar
A bunch of Sweet Basil Leaves
Some fresh red or green chillis (sliced)
A bowl of water

  1. In a wok or pot, heat up some oil (er, a few tsps). Add the red curry paste and fry until fragrant. About 5 minutes. You can add some water to prevent burning. 
  2. Add the roasted duck meat and stir to coat them with the paste. 
  3. Add water and coconut cream and stir. (Note: there is a difference between coconut cream and milk but for this dish, I will not fuss about this).
  4. Tear and add kaffir leaves. Add pineapple and tomatoes.
  5. Adjust taste with fish sauce (salty) and palm sugar. Use sugar sparingly as this dish should have only a tinge of sweetness.  
  6. Just before you serve, add the fresh chillis and basil leaves. Stir to infuse the curry with the amazing fragrance of basil.
Serve immediately. Best eaten with rice.

A few additional tips:
  • As the duck is already cooked, you do not need to cook this dish for too long. The duck meat will be soft, mushy and tasteless if you overcook this dish. I iwll say 10-15 minutes of duck cooking time should be enough. As always, watch your dish as it is cooked.
  • Don't neglect the fruits. The title of this dish may give the impression that it is all duck but the balance of pineapple and tomatoes is needed. If you can't get pineapple, canned lychees taste great too with this. Keep the balance though and don't overdo the fruits.
  • If possible, use Thai Palm sugar. It has a milky fragrant taste. Don't confuse this with gula melaka, another form of palm sugar. It can be a worthy substitute though I prefer the taste of the Thai Palm sugar. Only use plain sugar if you do not have both.
  • Don't skip the sweet basil leaves (in pic above). It lifts this dish to another level. You can get them from Cold Storage but it is cheaper at Golden Mile. If you have green fingers, you can plant your own.  But you may use them faster then they can grow in our weather. 
Thai Palm Sugar bought from the Thai Supermart at Golden Mile
The genesis of this dish - red curry paste

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