Jungle Curry with Duck, Long Beans, Oyster Mushrooms and Holy Basil

Kaeng Bpa Bpet

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings as part of a multi-dish meal

Appears in

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.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Duck (3 to 4 pounds or 1.4 to 1.8 kg)
  • 8 cups Water (enough to barely cover duck)
  • 1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil or rendered pork fat (lard)
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. Jungle curry paste (add 1 more tablespoon if paste was made in blender) or store-bought
  • 2 Tbsp Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • 1 tsp. Light brown palm sugar
  • ½ cup Pea eggplants or 4 medium round Green Thai eggplants, stem removed, cut in ¼s, or ½ cup or 1 cup of Chinese eggplant in bite size pieces
  • 8 strands Long beans or green beans, cut into 2-inch (5 cm.) pieces
  • ¼ cup Bamboo shoots, bite size slices, about ⅛ inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • 8 medium Kaffir lime leaves, torn into a few pieces each
  • ¼ lb. Oyster mushrooms, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh or brined Green peppercorns (drain and rinse briefly if brined)
  • 2 Tbsp. Krachai, cut into thin threads, about ⅛ inch (0.3 cm.) thick (can be bought in jar)
  • ½ cup Holy basil leaves or other Asian basil
  • 1 medium Long red chili or other hot red chili, cut into rings on angle, about ⅛ inch (0.3 cm.) thick

Method

  1. Cut the Duck and Make Stock: Remove the breast and thigh meat from the duck. Cut remaining carcass into 2- to 4-inch pieces. Slice boneless meat (should be about ¾–1 lb. or 340 to 545 g.) into bite size slices, ½ inch (0.6 cm.) thick; reserve in refrigerator. In a large pot, cover duck bones with water, bring to a boil, skim foam that rises to the surface, and lower heat. Simmer 1 hour to yield a simple yet flavorful stock. Strain, and set aside.
  2. Cook the Curry: Sizzle garlic with oil in a wok or 4 qt. (4 L.) saucepan over medium heat until aromatic, but not brown, 30 seconds. Stir in curry paste; cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes, “roasting” the paste to develop the flavors. Add 2 cups duck stock, fish sauce, and palm sugar; bring to a boil. Add eggplant; cook, stirring often, until eggplant is halfway cooked, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add duck meat, long beans, lime leaves, and bamboo shoots; cook until beans are almost tender, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook 20 seconds until they soften (all the vegetables should be cooked by this point). Stir in peppercorns, krachai, basil, and chilies and cook for 10 seconds more.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional fish sauce and/or salt. Serve immediately.

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