Aromatic duck curry

Aromatic duck curry

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

I’ve cooked this recipe a couple of times on TV, on The Best and Surfing the Menu, and it’s been a winner every time.

The list of ingredients seems long but it’s quite easy to put together. I think it’s best to use duck marylands, basically the legs. Blade mace is easy to find – it’s the outside husk of the nutmeg spice. To make things easy, buy the crispy fried shallots and garlic from a good Asian store.


Quantity Ingredient
6 duck legs or marylands, cut in half
1 star anise
2 sticks cassia bark or cinnamon
2 spring onions
1 stem lemongrass
4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups sunflower oil
4 dried long red chillies
1 cup thai basil, to garnish
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced, to garnish
1/2 cup crispy fried shallots, to garnish
1/4 cup crispy fried garlic, to garnish

Spice paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 blade mace
4 garlic cloves
5 long red chillies
5 french shallots
3cm knob of galangal
2 stems lemongrass
5 coriander roots
1 cup coconut cream
100g palm sugar
100ml fish sauce


  1. Position the duck legs in a large bamboo steamer. Place the star anise, cassia bark or cinnamon, spring onions and lemongrass in the steaming water. Steam for 1 hour, until the meat is tender, topping up the liquid as the duck cooks. Add the potatoes after 40 minutes.
  2. When the duck is cooked, remove from the steamer. Reserve the steaming liquid and potatoes.
  3. To make the spice paste, grind the peppercorns, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mace, garlic, chillies, shallots, galangal, lemongrass and coriander roots in a large mortar or blender. Grind the ingredients one at a time, in order from dry to soft, until they’re all combined. Heat the coconut cream in a large frying pan over high heat, and boil until the mixture separates into an oil. Add the spice paste and fry until fragrant. Add a little steaming liquid to make a medium-thick sauce. Adjust the seasoning using the palm sugar and fish sauce. You want the curry sauce to have a sweet–salty flavour. Set aside.
  4. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok and deep-fry the dried chillies for about 5 seconds, or until aromatic. Drain and set aside. Add the duck pieces and fry for about 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
  5. Place the fried duck in the curry sauce, along with the steamed potatoes, and bring back to a boil.
  6. Serve the duck curry garnished with the Thai basil and finely sliced lime leaves. Sprinkle over the crispy shallots and garlic and fried dried chillies.
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