Thai Duck Red Curry with Pineapple
See also Thai Fish Cakes Crispy Pork Belly Thai Red Curry with Prawns Thai Red Curry in Young Coconut
Red curry paste is the most versatile of all the Thai pastes, you can use it to make Thai fishcakes, in stir fries or marinades, in almost any dish where you want to add that Thai taste. For me though this is where it comes into its own, with duck or any game bird it makes for a magical dish. We had goose this Christmas and the leftover meat ended up in a red curry that disappeared all too soon !
I’m not normally a fan of pineapple in savoury dishes, (put it on my pizza at your own risk) but it really does work with this dish, a classic combination.
You can also make this dish quickly and easily with a pre-roasted duck from the supermarket or your local Chinatown. I’m using duck legs in this recipe which also makes it quite an economical dish as they are usually much cheaper than duck breast. The pastes are complete but it is always a good idea to have a little lime juice to hand to adjust sweetness, if needed, to your personal taste at the end of cooking. You also adjust saltiness by adding a little more fish sauce or salt if required.
This is what you need to make this dish.
The Kaffir lime leaves
are optional as they are already in the paste but they make for a nice decoration on most Thai curry dishes. You can buy them frozen in Thai or Vietnamese shops, sometimes in other Asian or Chinese stores also, they last a long time in the freezer so are worth looking out for.The mild green chillies are for garnish. Tomatoes are not often used in Thai cooking but this is one dish where they do make an appearance and they provide a good flavour contrast.
Make sure you’re using the “right” type of coconut milk as it will make or break this or any other coconut based curry. Quick guide here, Coconut Milk Summary
or if you would like to see the difference between different brands of coconut milk the full article is here, Cooking Thai Curry with Coconut Milk.
Just use half a can to start with, if it has separated in the can to a thick part at the top of the can then use the top part. You can add the remaining coconut liquid later depending on how thick you want your curry to be. The "traditional" method of heating the milk until it separates from it's oil and using that to cook the paste is not something I recommend as many people find it hard to achieve consistent results with canned coconut milk.
Bone out the duck leg leaving the skin on the duck and place skin side down in the pan. Don’t add any oil; you’ll cook this in the duck fat that will come out from the skin. Cook until skin starts to brown, about 5 minutes for duck legs, a bit less for duck breast.
After skin has browned turn and cook for a further 3 minutes. You don’t want to cook it all the way through, which will be done in the curry.
Remove the duck from the pan and place on a plate. LEAVE THE DUCK FAT IN THE PAN!
Now we are going to cook the pineapple segments in the duck fat, this is why the duck & pineapple combination tastes so delicious! In an earlier recipe for this I used to cut the pineapple into fancy sections but that can be time consuming and tricky for those who don't carve pineapples on a daily basis. Now I just advise people to cut it whichever way they feel comfortable with. Will this work with canned pineapple ? You're asking the wrong person! I'm Thai and the whole concept of canned pineapple is alien to me:-)
Cook the pineapple pieces for a few minutes in the duck fat turning once, let them carmelise a little as in the picture below.
Remove the pineapple to a plate and cook the tomatoes in the pan juices until they split their skins.
Take the semi-cooked duck and slice into pieces. Now we are ready to go!
Add curry paste to pan, using one pouch for around 500 grams of meat. Cook for a few minutes then add half a can of coconut milk at first.
Now add just the duck to the pan along with any juices. Stir through ensuring there is enough liquid in the pan to cover the duck.
Cover pan and simmer for no more than 10 minutes MAXIMUM to keep it tender. If you are using a pre-roasted duck then 5 minutes is sufficient.
Remove lid and add tomatoes and pineapple and the remainder of the coconut milk but save a few pieces of pineapple to add when serving. Bring to a simmer and stir though for 1 minute.
Add the sliced chillies and lime leaf if using and stir through. Serve adding the reserved pineapple segments and thin strips of lime leaf if available.
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