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The aroma of the curry depends on a proper mixing, on the friction of spices and herbs, says Lun, Raina and Gobli's cook. This should be neither too uncertain nor too slap-dash. Bridge at Maenam Chao Phraya in Bangkok.

Geng Thaeng Pet «Lun»

Red Thai Curry with Duck

The term «Geng Thaeng» or «Red Curry», is used for an array of curries with varying ingredients, mostly cooked with coconut milk. The red curry paste differs from green curry paste in that the former is prepared with dried red chilli flakes instead of with fresh green chillies. In addition, depending on the recipe, some other dried spices come into the dish. It is important therefore that the paste be fried for a longer period, i.e. until its aroma is fully released – David Thompson («Thai Food») recommends that it be fried for at least 10 minutes. It is the norm in Thailand to fry the curry paste in a bit of readymade coconut cream or milk. In the case of this curry, however, the paste is fried in the swimming fat of a duck – something that lends the dish a distinctly meaty flavour. We give due thanks for the recipe to Lun, the genial cook of ex-agents Raina and Gobli, in whose kitchen Hektor Maille got some good sniffs and tips of Thai cuisine – shortly before he dived through the pool of the Hotel «Atlanta», followed by a cake fork, and found that everything had suddenly changed.

Preparation of the Curry Paste

Here we provide a rough guide to paste preparation with the help of a meat-grinder. We have dealt with the basics of Thai curry paste and its ingredients, principles and modalities of preparation (with a mixer or mortar and pestle) in the chapter titled «Thai Currys». Each sort of paste is ideally prepared according to the recipe being used.

Ingredients (for 200 g paste)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin

4 cloves

2 teaspoons white pepper

8 small, red Thai-shallots or 4 French shallots

2 cm galangal (about 15 g), cleaned and chopped (1 tablespoon)

3 stalks lemon grass, only the inner, whiter and more tender parts ( 3 tablespoons)

3 coriander roots, cleaned an chopped (1 tablespoon)

Zest of 2 kaffir limes (or 1 ‹normal› lime), only the green parts (about 2 teaspoons )

12 to 15 dried red chillies, stalk removed, deseeded and soaked for at least 30 minutes in warm water

10 pods garlic, roughly chopped (5 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients (Curry for 4 persons)

1 duck breast of about 400 g, with the fat layer

6 Thai-aubergines, about 200 g (the round, green ones of the size of a ping-pong-ball)

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons palm sugar (or 1½ teaspoons white sugar)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

400 ml coconut milk

6 leaves kaffir lime, either roughly disrupted or chopped into hair fine stripes

1 small hand full of sweet Thai-basil (Bai horapa)

For the decoration some deseeded chillies

Preparation of the paste

  1. Heat a frying pan without fat and roast the coriander seeds until they start to crunch, set aside. Following the same procedure roast cumin until the seeds get brown and start to break open. Roast the cloves as well. Finely Grind coriander, cumin, cloves and pepper (easiest in a electrical coffee-mill).
  2. Roast half of the shallots by holding them over a gas-flame with the help of a fork or a skewer. Peel as far as still necessary and chop (a ingenious trick of Lun, which gives the curry a subtle, smoky undertone). Peel and chop the rest of the shallots too.
  3. Mince shallots, galangal, lemon grass, coriander roots, kaffir lime zeste, chilis, garlic and salt with the help of a meat grinder – possibly two times until the paste seems fine enough. Stir in the dried and roasted spices.

Preparation of the Curry

  1. Remove the fat layer from the duck breast and let it melt over medium heat in a frying pan – until there are 2 or 3 tablespoons of fluid fat in the pan. Remove the fat layer. Finely slice the duck meat.
  2. Wash aubergines and chop into quarters. Cook in slightly salted water for about 10 minutes until almost done. Drain and allow to drop off.
  3. Warm the duck fat, add to tablespoons of curry paste (or a little bit more) and roast carefully for about 10 minutes or until you feel that the smell is strong enough.
  4. Add sugar and dissolve, let the paste get slightly darker. Add fish sauce. Poor in the coconut milk. Bring to boll and let simmer for 3 minutes. Reduce heat, add meat and simmer again for 3 minutes (the meat can still be a little bit bloody).
  5. Add aubergines and kaffir lime leaves, let simmer on low flame for two more minutes.
  6. Remove from the stove and allow to repose for 5 minutes. Decorate with basil and chilis.

Of course one can use other vegetables instead of the aubergines. In our opinion slightly bitter vegetables also like the pea-sized Thai-aubergines suit specially well. Using little baby-corns or tomatoes will make the curry more lovely. - To make the paste in a reasonable way you need a certain volume of ingredients – which results in more paste than what you need for the recipe above. The paste can be kept in the fridge for at least one week and can be used for other curry-preparations.

Tasting Geng Thaeng Pet for the Menu of Episode 8 – at Annette's in Basel on January 20, 2010.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

As hard as Maille found it to get Jelena Jansson to speak to him, as easy did he find it to conjure up the following menu under the direction of cook Lun:

First Publication: 30-1-2010

Modifications: 25-1-2011, 19-6-2011, 14-11-2011, 14-12-2011