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Red Curry with Barbecued Duck & Pineapple

Red Curry with Barbecued Duck & Pineapple Recipe (Gaeng Ped Bped Yang) - For a while, my dad was fixated on perfecting this recipe, and I ended up getting involved in the project, so I owe this recipe to him. This curry is a great example of the weaving of Thai and Chinese culinary cultures. The quintessential Chinese barbecued duck is married to the Thai red curry, and the resulting dish just explodes with flavour. Barbecued duck is available in many Chinese restaurants and markets, but don’t settle for any old duck! Buy the best duck you can find as the quality of the curry is tied to it. My dad’s secret is making stock out of the duck bones and adding it back into the curry to tie the flavours of the duck and the sauce together. You can prep your own duck, but the flavour and texture of Chinese barbecued duck can’t easily be replicated at home, so I like to leave this one to the experts.

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 1 hour + 30 minutes if making the curry paste
Special Tools: Heavy-duty mortar and pestle, or another device for making curry paste
Do-ahead Tips: Make the duck stock and the curry paste in advance. You can also make the entire dish in advance, leaving the basil and tomatoes out until ready to serve.
Gaeng = Curry; Ped = Spicy; Bped = Duck; Yang = Grilled or barbecued
Red Curry with Barbecued Duck & Pineapple Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Chinese barbecued duck, uncut (see note)
  • As needed Water
  • 2 cups Coconut milk
  • 1 recipe Red curry paste or 5 Tbsp store-bought
  • 3 Tbsp Palm sugar, finely chopped, packed
  • 2 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 cups Pineapple, fresh, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves
  • For serving Jasmine rice

How to make Red Curry with Barbecued Duck & Pineapple

  1. Debone the duck and cut the meat and skin into bite-size pieces. Put the duck bones into a stock pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 30–45 minutes, then discard the bones. Reserve 1½ cups of this stock; the rest of the stock can be used in other soups.
  2. Reduce ¾ cup of the coconut milk in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until very thick and the clear coconut oil starts to separate from the white portion, 10–15 minutes. (If this separation doesn’t happen, just proceed with the recipe after reducing until thick—sometimes coconut milk is processed to prevent separation. See this page for more information.)
  3. Add the curry paste to the reduced coconut milk and cook over medium-low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the curry paste is very thick. Add the remaining 1¼ cups of coconut milk and stir to mix. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the reserved duck stock, 2 Tbsp of the palm sugar, and half of the fish sauce; bring to a boil.
  4. When the curry boils, add the duck meat and pineapple; then simmer gently for 3–4 minutes so they absorb the curry (if you cannot fit all the duck meat into the pot, set the extra aside for later). While the curry simmers, pierce the grape tomatoes with the tip of a paring knife (if the tomatoes don’t split naturally, this incision releases the built-up pressure so they won’t explode in your mouth when you eat them!).
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with the remaining palm sugar and fish sauce. Remove from the heat, then stir in the pierced grape tomatoes and Thai basil, letting the residual heat gently cook the tomatoes so they do not turn mushy.
  6. Garnish the curry with the top of a Thai basil sprig and serve with jasmine rice.

Note: When you buy barbecued duck, many vendors will cut the duck into small pieces by default. Ask them not to cut it so you can easily remove the bones. Note also that though the curry is gluten-free, barbecued ducks are often made with gluten-containing soy sauce.

Tip for Success:
Barbecued duck from different vendors has varying levels of salt and sugar, which will affect the stock. This is why we reserve half of the seasoning for final adjustments.
 

Red Curry Paste

  • 8 Large dried chilies, seeded
  • 4 Small dried chilies, seeded (see note)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp White peppercorns
  • 3 Tbsp Lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Galangal, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Cilantro roots or 2 Tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kaffir lime zest, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Shrimp paste (gapi)

How to make Red Curry Paste

  1. Grind the dry chilies into a powder using a spice/coffee grinder OR soak the chilies in water for at least an hour to soften. (See Tips for Making Curry Paste in a Mortar and Pestle)
  2. If using dry, ground chilies:
  3. In a heavy-duty mortar and pestle, add the salt, white peppercorns, lemongrass, galangal, cilantro roots and kaffir lime zest; pound into a fine paste.
  4. Add the ground chilies and pound to mix.
  5. Add the shallots and garlic; pound into a fine paste.
  6. Add the shrimp paste and pound to mix.
  7. If using soaked chilies:
  8. Drain the chilies from the soaking water and dry off excess water with paper towel. Cut into small pieces.
  9. In a heavy-duty mortar and pestle, add the chilies, salt, and white peppercorns; pound into a fine paste.
  10. Add the lemongrass, galangal, cilantro roots and kaffir lime zest; pound into a fine paste.
  11. Add the shallots and garlic; pound into a fine paste.
  12. Add the shrimp paste and pound to mix.

Note: Large dried chilies are mild, while small dried chilies are quite spicy, so you can control the curry paste’s spiciness by adding more or fewer of the small ones. Leave in the seeds of the small chilies for extra heat.

THE DUCK AND THE FRUIT
There’s something about duck and sweet-and-sour fruits that go brilliantly together. The French know it well, hence duck à l’orange. Apart from pineapple, try this curry with lychee or red grapes.

THE BREAKDOWN

The Paste Red curry paste
The Liquid Coconut milk and duck stock
The Nuggets Duck, pineapple, grape tomatoes, Thai basil
The Seasoning Fish sauce, palm sugar
Flavour Profile Salty, followed by sweet, with bursts of acidity from the pineapple. Creamy mouthfeel but should not be thick or viscous.