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Aromatic Duck Curry
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Making your own curry paste in a food processor is easy. However, if you want to embrace true authenticity, consider pounding the spices in a pestle and mortar – this releases more of their fragrance. The downside is that it's a somewhat time-consuming and messy business. A lot of fuss is made in Thai books about 'splitting' the coconut cream, so you can fry the paste in the coconut's oil and draw out the aromatics. Now, unless you siphon off your own fresh coconut cream, you can't do this, because cartons of coconut cream are homogenised. Instead, I pop my coconut milk in the fridge as soon as I buy it. The fattier part clings to the lid, and I fry the paste in this, together with a little bit of extra oil. I use dried red chillies in the paste as they are intensely fruity without all the heat, but if you prefer a more vibrant colour, use fresh chillies. In Thailand, meat is mostly braised, as it needs to be tenderised. If you want to skip the braising for a quicker curry, don't swap the duck legs for breast meat – it will dry out. Instead, use vegetables only, or add seafood. Whatever you put in, though, you should always aim for a rich, oily sauce that is salty, hot and sweet, all at once.
Pestle and mortar (or food processor)
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in March 2007.