After the pungent fishiness of last week, this is at the other end of scale entirely. Rich, thick and luscious, it’s a Thai curry that proudly trumpets its Indian influence. I think this is a southern style dish and is particularly aromatic, rounded and – compared to the scud-laced fire pits of many Thai curry pastes – gentle. That’s not to say there ain’t any chilli, this is from Thailand after all. But the heat is warming rather than searing.
Far greater use of aromatic dried spices is made here than in your typical fresh and zesty Thai curry. There is more in the way of what we might think of as warm flavours. Even the chillies are dried, giving it the heat of banked embers rather than a white hot forge. This allows the nutty aromas of roasted cumin and coriander and sharp flavours of white pepper to come to the fore.
There is still a touch of lovely citrus zing from the lemongrass, an ingredient that firmly places the dish in South East Asia rather than India. But then there is also potato, which soaks the flavours up beautifully and adds some textured heft to the dish.
In other words, it’s hardly typical of what we think of as Thai cooking. There certainly ain’t any dramatic gasping, sweat-soaked brows or futile fanning of hand in front of mouth. Or was that just me when I first encountered a proper scud-based curry?
The thick richness, quite unlike the thin liquid coconut based curries I’ve eaten in Thailand comes from the liberal use of coconut cream as well as milk. The texture is almost grainy and chewy, but not in an unpleasant way. It’s actually quite delicious, coating your tongue in an aromatic, nutty, salty-sweet and slightly pungent sauce backed up with a growing mid level heat and the meaty flavours of duck.
I used Mallard because I like the lean and gamey flavour, but if you wanted to ramp up the richness, you could use some duck legs. It would also suit beef or buffalo, although you might want to poach the meat a little longer. This isn’t for anything too delicate though, prawns would be lost and even chicken, unless it’s aged and free range, would struggle.
A rich sand creamy Thai mallard curry
Feeds four with rice and a veg dish
1 mallard, jointed and boned, cut into bite sized pieces
2 largish waxy potatoes – peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 tin coconut milk
200g coconut cream
2 tsp castor sugar
3 tblsp fish sauce
3 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped
1 thumb galangal (or ginger) – peeled and chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass – out leaves removed and chopped
7 dried long red chillies deseeded and soaked
2 tsp chopped coriander stalks
1 tblsp coriander seeds – roast and ground
2 tsp cumin seeds – roast and ground
1 tsp fennel seeds – roast and ground
3 blades of mace – roast and ground
15 white peppercorns – ground
First make the paste by putting everything into a blender with chilli water and blending to a thick paste.
Next, poach the duck in the coconut milk for 15-20 mins and set aside. Now boil the potatoes until firm but cooked through.
Fry the coconut cream until it separates a little and add all the paste. Fry for 5 mins stirring continuously. Moisten withi fish sauce and then sprinkle over the sugar. Stir or another minute or two.
Add the coconut milk you poached the duck in a spoonful at a time until you end up with a medium thick curry sauce. Add the potato and duck, bubble for a couple of minutes then check for seasoning and serve over rice.