One of my favorite recipes in my cookbook Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild is a Thai green duck curry. This red duck curry s an alternate version, one that’s every bit as popular in Thailand.
I consider myself a pretty good cook, but whenever I venture outside my comfort zone I try to seek out people who know more about the food than I do. In this case, my friend Jax Phongsavath’s mom. Jax is as American as I am, but her mom is from Thailand.
Nervously, I ran my green duck curry past her. I was overjoyed to get the “Thai Mom Seal of Approval” for that recipe. Only thing Jax said to me was that her mom usually made Thai red curry with duck.
So here it is: Red duck curry with a Thai mom’s seal of approval. Hope you like it!
The highlights of this curry are, other than the duck, that great warm-rich feeling you get when you combine coconut milk and chiles, and the sweet-tart high notes of the pineapple chunks. If you hate fish sauce, you can skip it, but Jax’s mother will be sad. I prefer Three Crabs brand fish sauce, but Red Boat is also good.
Serve this with white steamed rice and a crisp beer, or an off-dry white wine such as a Gewurztraminer. Once you make this recipe, you can reheat it as leftovers for a few days.
A word on the curry paste. The store-bought ones are very good, especially if you can find Mae Ploy. But if you want to make your own Thai red curry paste, this is a pretty good recipe.
Thai Red Curry Duck
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass (optional, white parts only)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly top to root
- 2 to 6 small hot chiles, chopped
- 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
- 1 13- ounce can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 1 pound diced, peeled potatoes
- 2 tablespoons sugar (palm sugar if you can get it)
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 pound duck or goose breasts, sliced thin
- Lime juice to taste
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- Heat the peanut oil in a wok or a heavy saute pan over high heat. The moment it smokes, add the lemongrass, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and chiles stir-fry another minute or two, then mix in the curry paste. Stir-fry the curry paste until it begins to separate a little, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir well to combine. Fill up the coconut milk can with water and pour that in, too. Add the fish sauce and the potatoes and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- When the potatoes are just about tender, add the pineapple chunks and the sugar. Add salt or more fish sauce to taste. Cook the pineapple for a minute or two before adding in the sliced duck breast.
- The duck breast will release some juice in a minute or two. When it does, stir the curry well and add the cilantro and lime juice to taste. Turn off the heat and serve immediately over white rice.