There are some perfectly good thai curry pastes in the supermarket these days but if you want to feel like a true culinary whiz there is nothing like heading to the markets and picking up the ingredients to make your own. It’s perfectly magical the transformation of ingredients from fresh produce to fragrant paste.
So if you are in any way limited in pantry space this recipe is not for you. The making of your own red curry takes a lot of ingredients that you would ideally have in your pantry. Picking up all the ingredients from scratch is majorly demotivating in whipping up this thai favourite (particularly if you’ve got your local takeaway on speed dial).
However, the beeming satisfaction of whipping up a curry as good (if not better) than a restaurant is pretty bloody fabulous.
This is the adapted version of the recipe that was taught to me in Thailand. I wish I could say that I can whip this up off the top of my head but I’m pretty paranoid that I’m going to either forget an ingredient or not get the right balance so I prefer to do it pretty much by the book (as adapted by me).
This recipe serves two but makes enough paste for an additional curry. Put the other half of the paste in the freezer until the next time your craving Thai.
RED CURRY DUCK WITH PINEAPPLE (Serves 2)
2 duck breasts
400ml coconut milk
100ml coconut cream
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 fat garlic cloves
1/2 bunch coriander root and stems (about six stems)
2 tbsps grated galangal
1 lemongrass stick, sliced, white part only
1cm knob turmeric, peeled
2 tsps shrimp paste
6 large dried red chillies, stemmed and chopped
5 fresh red chillies, stemmed
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
8 cherry tomatoes
1/2 pineapple, chopped into chunks
1/2 red capsicum, chopped into chunks
1/2 bunch Thai basil
Handful of coriander leaves
1. To mate curry paste: Soak the dried chillies in hot water to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Dry roast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a fry pan. Once fragrant, grind seeds in a mortar and pestle.
2. Peel the eschallots and garlic and chop eschallots in half. Finely chop coriander root and stems. Add these ingredients together with galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, shrimp paste, ground cumin and coriander, fresh and dried chillies into the bowl of a handheld food processor or blender.
3. Remove stem of kaffir lime leaves then roll into a cigar shape and thinly slice, Add to food processor bowl. Blend curry ingredients until you have a fragrant paste. Add a little water if your ingredients are too dry.
4. Place duck breasts skin side down in a cool fry pan and then put fry pan on medium heat to warm up. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.
5. Once skin of duck breasts is crispy and golden, turn duck breasts over, then place fry pan in the oven to finish cooking for 10 minutes. (Drain excess duck fat into a jar.)
6. Heat a pot with sunflower oil and add half of the curry paste mixture into the pot to cook through. (Freeze other half for another day.)
7. Cook the curry paste in the oil on medium heat until ingredients are toasted and fragrant.
8. Add coconut milk, 50 ml coconut cream, palm sugar and fish sauce and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes to thicken.
9. When thickness of the sauce is close to serving, add slice duck breasts to pot together with pineapple, capsicum and cherry tomatoes. Heat through for 5 minutes.
10. Just before serving add remaining coconut cream, basil leaves and chopped coriander leaves.
11. Serve with jasmine rice.
WATCH OUTS: Go easy on the turmeric, it has a tendancy to everything including your fingers really yellow. Size and heat of chillies can vary so you may need to add extra coconut milk or palm sugar if the heat is too fiesty. Remember that the pineapple and cherry tomatoes already add a terrific sweetness which assists the balance. Add the Thai Basil leaves at the last minute as they go black if they cook too much. As mentioned in the Duck Ragu recipe, having a little duck fat on hand will make your roast potatoes out of this world. Make sure you reserve this for future use.