This recipe is from May of 2020 when we could hardly leave the house and I was pouring my energy into cooking with whatever ingredients were available in the pantry.
Because we were still able to manage a trip to Chiang Mai before borders were closed, we had a sizeable stock of dried herbs and spices from Thailand. A number of ingredients used in making the curry paste for this dish came from that stash.
When I first published the recipe, I called the dish Thai red duck curry. I realize now that the title was misleading. There is more than one way to cook red curry in Thailand. If I were to cook and document all known variants of Thai curry, I’d have a whole new blog.
So, to be more accurate, this is a panang curry recipe. And, yes, it is a red curry. In commercial usage, however, panang curry and red curry are two distinct pastes although both are made with red chilies.
Panang curry is less hot and, after cooking, the stew is sweet because of the copius amount of coconut milk that goes into it. And the natural sweetness of coconut milk is even heightened by the addition of palm sugar.
Panang (phanaeng) duck curry
For the spice base
- 4 large dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 4 white peppercorns
- 4 cardamon seeds
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 slices dried galangal soaked in warm water until softened
- 1 teaspoon grated kaffir lime zest
- 4 slices fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons sliced lemongrass stalks
- 2 shallots peeled and quartered
- 4 stalks cilantro roots rinsed well
- 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 1 one-inch piece cinnamon bark
For the stew
- Using a large mortar and pestle, grind together all the ingredients for the spice base until pasty. Set aside.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wide thick-bottomed pan.
- Spread the duck pieces in the hot oil and allow the undersides to brown.
- Flip the duck pieces over and brown the opposite sides.
- Stir up the duck and continue browning, with occasional stirring, until fat has been rendered.
- Scoop up the duck pieces and set aside.
- In the mixture of remaining oil and rendered fat, saute the spice base. Stir often until the solids separate from the fat.
- Return the duck to the pan.
- Pour in the coconut milk and broth.
- Stir in about two tablespoons of fish sauce.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer the duck until the meat is tender and easily separated from the bone, about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the age of the duck.
- While the duck cooks, taste the broth occasionally and add more fish sauce, as needed.
- When the duck is done, stir in the coconut cream.
- Taste the sauce, add more fish sauce if needed, and allow the stew to come to a simmer.
- Scoop out the duck pieces and transfer to a serving bowl, ladle the sauce over them and sprinkle with Thai basil and cilantro before serving.