This recipe, which uses a fresh, homemade curry paste made from Thai chilies, lemongrass, ginger, and whole spices, is a really good one. The spiciness of the curry paste, richness of the coconut milk and the duck, and sweet acidity of the pineapple play really well off each other, resulting in a thick and balanced curry that will make you proud of your new-found international cooking skills. Buying pre-cooked Chinese style duck, and using homemade curry paste. I think the pre-cooked duck is a good idea if you’re short on time, but definitely make the curry paste yourself. It’s worth it. Scroll down for the recipe.
Duck, Pineapple, and Coconut Curry
For the curry paste:
- 1 TBS whole coriander
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- 4 red bird’s eye (Thai) chilies
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 1/4 in. piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 sticks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed and interior finely sliced
- 2 lime leaves, finely chopped
- 6 cilantro roots, finely chopped, or 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cardamom pods
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp whole green peppercorns, or freshly ground pepper
- Add the coriander and the cumin to a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant, shaking the pan to prevent them from burning.
- Add the toasted seeds and the next 10 ingredients (chilies through green peppercorns) to a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
For the curry:
- 4 duck breasts (about 2 lbs.), fat lightly scored
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cans (14 oz. each) of unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 whole lime leaves
- 2 TBS palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 lb. 2 oz fresh pineapple, diced
- 2 TBS fish sauce
- leaves from 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1 red chili, thinly sliced
- handful of Thai basil leaves
- 1 or 2 limes, cut into quarters
- Season the duck with the salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan (that has a lid) over medium heat and add the duck to the pan, fat side down. Sear on high heat until browned all over. Pour off extra fat and set duck aside.
- Scoop the coconut cream off the top of the cans and add to the pan along with the curry paste. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the rest of the coconut milk plus 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the seared duck. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the duck is tender. Uncover and add the lime leaves, palm sugar, and pineapple. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Skim the fat from the dish and discard, and finish the curry with the fish sauce and cilantro. Remove the duck breasts from the curry and slice them, then return to the sauce. Serve over rice, with the sliced chilies, basil leaves, and lime quarters.
For dinner, we made Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, and Capers, and “BLTs,” with the last of our beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the garden, and crispy fried mushrooms in place of the bacon. Both dishes went over really well, and we liked the beets so much that we made them again at home to share here. There’s a ton of flavor and texture in this recipe, and while I suppose it’s possible that I mostly like it because it has mayo, avocado, and capers in it, I think that all of the elements go really well together. The bright, contrasting colors also make it a very pretty appetizer. Scroll down for the recipe.
Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion
Serves 4 to 6.
- 2 c. coarse kosher salt
- 5 lbs. golden beets (no greens)
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 1/2 c. peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber
- 3/4 c. vegan mayo
- 1/2 c. loosely packed dill fronds
- 1 TBS Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
- 1/4 c. capers, drained
- 1/4 c. finely diced red onions
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the kosher salt in an even, thick layer on a large baking sheet. Arrange the beets in a single layer on the salt. Roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours. The skins will look very dark, almost burnt. Let the beets cool until you can comfortably handle them, then peel the beets. Slice the peeled beets as thinly as you can. Toss the beet slices in a large bowl with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, and 1 tsp of the black pepper. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.
- Place the cucumber, mayo, dill, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, and the remaining 1 tsp of black pepper in a food processor. Pulse into a smooth sauce, then set aside.
- Fan the sliced, marinated beets out on a large platter. Garnish with the avocado, capers, and diced red onion, and a spoonful of the cucumber sauce.