Northern Thailand doesn’t have coconut trees like the south does, so northern curries don’t feature coconut milk, much to the surprise of many Westerners. Free of the unctuous milk, these spicy curries exhibit a brilliant clarity of flavor. Thais sop up the delicious sauce with clumps of steamed sticky rice.
Krachai, an aromatic rhizome with finger-like appendages, gives this dish a unique taste. It is both pounded into the curry paste, and cut into thread-like julienne as a vegetable garnish for the sauce. Do not fret if you cannot find fresh krachai: preserved krachai sold in small glass jars is just as good in this dish. This recipe is for curry of duck, but freshwater fish (such as catfish) is also common in jungle curries of the north. To save some time, you can buy boneless duck breast and chicken stock for the curry, and skip step 1 of this recipe.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.