Yellow duck curry
Serves 6 | prep 50 mins | total time
For the curry
- 1 x 1.25kg whole duck
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (for breast marinade)
For the stock
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 2 carrots, washed and broken in half
- 2 star anise
- ½ thumb-sized piece of root ginger (about 15g), peeled
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
For the paste
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 2 green chillies, tops off and cut into thirds (seeds in)
- 200g shallots, peeled and quartered
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and sliced
- 50g galangal, scrubbed and roughly chopped (or see Kitchen Secret)
- 120ml groundnut or vegetable oil
For the curry
- 1 x 200g block creamed coconut
- 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
- ½ large or 1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
- 300g white cabbage or half a small savoy, roughly diced into 2cm pieces
- 150g chestnut mushrooms, destalked and torn in half or quarters, depending on size
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly diced
- 150g sugar snap peas
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
- 1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
- a handful of Thai basil leaves or coriander, very roughly chopped
Make and reduce the stock up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover and chill. Discard any solidified fat before reheating. Make the paste up to 1 day ahead, cover and chill.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the legs from the duck, cutting in between the thigh and breast to release the leg. Then cut out the breasts from the duck, cutting as close to the bone as possible and keeping the breast meat intact.
- Discard any large bits of fat from the duck carcass, then cut it in half. Put the carcass plus the legs and all the other stock ingredients in a large pan and pour on cold water to just cover (around 2 litres). Pop the breasts to one side for now.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat so it's just steaming, uncovered. Leave to simmer very gently for 11⁄2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the paste by whizzing everything together in a blender until smooth.
- Next, prep the duck breasts: lay them on a board, skin-side down, and trim off the excess fat. Slice the breasts widthways into 1cm-thick pieces then mix 2 tablespoons of the paste with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and use your hands to thoroughly coat them in the mixture. Cover and chill.
- After the stock's been on for 1½ hours, lift out the legs and put aside to cool. Increase the heat: keep it on a lively rolling boil until it's reduced down to about 500-600ml, which takes another 40–60 minutes. Then strain it; discard the carcass, herbs and veg.
- Once the legs are cool enough to handle, pick off the meat and roughly shred, discarding the skin and bones, then toss briefly with a good sprinkling of salt.
- For the curry, put a large, wide pan over a high heat and wait for it to get properly hot. Individually and quickly, lay down as many slices of breast as will cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer. As soon as the base is covered, start turning the first ones (ie after just 1 minute) – they will stick as there is no oil in the pan, but don't stress, you're just trying to give them a quick seal. Cook just as briefly on the other side then remove to a plate. Repeat as necessary; wait for the pan to get hot again before going in with the rest of the slices.
- Now reduce the heat to low, tip in the rest of the paste, stir and fry for about 10 minutes; add the block of creamed coconut halfway to melt in. Then pour in the coconut milk, turn the heat up to medium; stir until smooth.
- Add the cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms and red pepper. Season, then stir well to coat in the fragrant sauce. Pop a lid on, reduce the heat right down and leave the veg to start to soften (but not cook through) for about 10 minutes, with the odd stir.
- Now add the reduced stock and the leg meat; put the lid back on and bring to a gentle simmer. Once the veg is cooked – just another few minutes – stir in the breast slices and sugar snaps. Bring back to a simmer, then turn off immediately and add soy sauce and lime juice to taste. Finish with the spring onions and chopped herbs. Serve with freshly cooked rice and lime wedges to squeeze over.
I know what you're thinking: "Sounds yummy, but too many ingredients." And while you're right about the first part, you're wrong about the second. This dish has got just the right amount of ingredients to make it fabulous. This is start-to-finish fun to make and eat