Monday, May 27, 2013

Thai Red Duck Curry

Thai Red Duck Curry

A couple of months ago Mark helped our neighbor process some of his ducks.  If you don't know what that means, just take your best guess and use your imagination.  A couple of days later, we had a duck in our freezer!  I had never had duck before, but I had heard that it is a bit more gamey and oily than chicken.  I also heard that one duck is not that much meat, so I kept my eyes out for a good recipe.  Just a week or so later, this recipe for Thai Red Duck Curry showed up on the Love and Olive Oil blog!  Given that I rarely, if ever, see a duck recipe on the blogs I read (and I love Thai food), I figured it was fate.

I finally got around to making the recipe recently and it was delicious!  If you don't have or want duck, it would work equally well with chicken or cubed firm tofu (I will definitely make this again with one of those alternatives).  Since we had a whole duck, we first cooked the duck in the slow cooker and then Mark carved off the meat and shredded it for the curry. This worked very well.  The original recipe had you cooking the meat in the curry, which would also be great I am sure. 

The most frustrating part of this recipe was trying to make the red curry paste from scratch.   I couldn't find all the ingredients and so I ended up with a combination of the from-scratch curry paste and a jar of pre-made curry  paste.  In the end it tasted great, but I wish I could have found everything!  The two ingredients that were hardest to find were red curry powder and dried guajillo chiles.  If you have easy access to these ingredients, follow the link to the original recipe and use that.  If not, you can see how I ended up modifying the recipe below.

We both really liked this meal.   Besides the duck, the pineapple in the curry was key for rounding out the flavors.  Overall it was rich, warm, spicy, and satisfying-- perfect for a ridiculously cold Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. :)

Thai Red Duck Curry

Thai Red Duck Curry

serves: 4


  • 2 dried red hot chiles (optional, for heat) softened in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 shallots, halved
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 14-ounce cans light coconut milk
  • 2 cups water or broth (I used water because that's what I had)
  • 1 pound cooked and shredded duck or chicken (or cubed tofu)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or from a can)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (omit if using tofu and you want to make this vegetarian)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce/tamari
For Serving:  cooked brown jasmine rice, thinly sliced red onion, cilantro leaves


1)  In a small bowl, combine dried chiles and boiling water.  Let sit until softened.    Drain and reserve the soaking liquid.

2)  If you would like to serve this with rice (which I highly recommend), get started on cooking it now.

3) Combine softened chiles + 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, and red curry paste in the bowl  of a food processor.    Process until combined.  Add additional water or soaking liquid (if you want it extra spicy) until a smooth paste is formed.  1 more tablespoon of liquid might be needed.

3)  Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add curry paste mixture and cook, stirring constantly,  about 5 minutes until it starts to darken a little bit.  Add coconut milk and water or broth and whisk well to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

4)  Add shredded meat, pineapple, grape tomatoes, and red bell pepper to curry.  Stir to combine.  Return to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and peppers are tender.  Stir in brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Carefully taste (it's hot!) and add more sugar/fish sauce/soy sauce if needed.

5)  Divide curry among bowls and top with red onion and cilantro leaves.  Serve with rice.

(recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

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