Thai cuisine is renowned worldwide for its complex medley of spicy, sour, sweet and salty flavors. At the heart of many classic Thai dishes is the iconic red curry – a rich, coconut milk-based sauce tinted a fiery red by dried chilies and aromatic Thai herbs. This Thai red duck curry recipe combines the richness of tender duck meat with the big, bold flavors of homemade red curry paste. The result is an exotic dish packed with authentic Thai flair.
Ingredients You’ll Need
When tackling this recipe, gathering the right ingredients is key. Here’s what you’ll need to whip up a true taste of Thailand:
- 1 whole duck (about 5 pounds), cut into 8 pieces with skin on
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (storebought or homemade – see recipe below)
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves
- Lime wedges for serving
This list covers all the essential components that bring the addictive flavors of Thai duck curry to life. The duck provides succulent, rich meat while the coconut milk forms the luxuriously creamy curry base. Onion, carrots and bell pepper add texture and natural sweetness. Tomatoes provide bright pops of acidity to cut through the richness. And no Thai curry would be complete without the quintessential Thai basil, with its distinct licorice-like essence.
Crafting Your Own Red Curry Paste
To truly recreate the authentic taste of Thailand, try making your own red curry paste from scratch. This allows you to control the balance of flavors and spice level. Here’s a simple recipe to try:
- 3 dried red chilies, seeded and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- 1 stalk lemongrass, tender lower part only, chopped
- 1 inch piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems
- 1 teaspoon salt
Process all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until you achieve a smooth paste. Add a splash of water if needed to blend.
How to Cook Perfect Thai Red Duck Curry
Follow these simple steps for lip-smacking Thai red duck curry.
- Season the duck generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the duck pieces in batches on all sides until golden, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the Thai red curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until very fragrant. Take care not to burn. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Stir to blend.
- Return the duck and any juices to the pot. Add the onion, carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until duck is very tender.
- Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with more fish sauce, sugar or salt.
- Right before serving, stir in the Thai basil leaves until just wilted.
- Serve the curry piping hot, garnished with lime wedges. Enjoy over steamed jasmine rice.
Tips for Ultimate Flavor
Follow these pro tips for best results with your Thai red duck curry:
- Use fresh, good quality red curry paste. The flavor really makes a difference. Alternatively, make your own paste.
- Opt for boneless, skin-on duck thighs for tender, succulent meat that holds up well to longer cooking times.
- Add veggies like eggplant, bamboo shoots or green beans for texture and color contrast.
- Adjust the spice level by reducing or increasing the amount of red curry paste.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil or mint for a pop of freshness.
- Add a squeeze of lime juice and fish sauce before serving to brighten flavors.
The complex medley of tastes and textures in Thai red curry is best enjoyed family-style. Set it out steaming hot with a pot of jasmine rice and let guests assemble their own bowls. The rich duck and creamy coconut curry punctuated by crisp veggies and zesty lime is an exotic taste of Southeast Asia. This recipe allows you to create those authentically intense Thai flavors right in your own kitchen.