Thursday, 18 April 2013


The husband referred to this dish as the best Asian meal i've ever served. I wish i could take the the credit - but i only think it fair i give credit where credit is really due and to me it was not.  I had to be honest and attribute the recipe to it's genius owner - Anna Hansen of the Modern Pantry (London.)

I've been cooking from her book periodically over the last year and everything i have made has been lip smackingly delicious. I enjoy her style of cooking as Anna isn't shy of flavour.  She swerves towards the side of strong, bold and intense with her combinations and concentrations.  It's something i can definitely relate to and it's definitely something i want to share with you.

Anna Hansen's Coconut Duck Curry

The ingredient list is long and with making your own laksa paste it's even longer. Many might over look this recipe as it could seem to be too complicated and too laborious, but don't be fooled. In reality all the hard work is done ahead and then the duck legs just do their own thing and cook slowly away for a few hours filling your home with the most sensational aromas. It's worth it just for that alone. My husband wasn't far off in saying it was the best Asian meal i've ever served up - it's a seriously luxurious meal. So make sure you've got all the ingredients stocked up, invite some guests over for dinner and impress the socks off them ....... 

The original recipe calls for Pandan Leaves - which i have never yet come across in my little corner of the globe. Thus i omitted them from the version i made and thus omitted them from this recipe. Should you however know about this intriguing ingredient and are able to get hold of some  include 3-4 of them into your cooking.

serves 6

80ml vegetable oil
6 duck leg quarters - excess fat trimmed off
400ml chicken stock
125g laksa paste ***
4 star anise
1 tablespoon coriander seed - coursely ground
1 cinnamon stick
1 red chilli
2 lemon grass stalks - trimmed & bashed
5 kaffir lime leaves
100g fresh ginger  - chopped
1 large red onion - sliced
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
handful coriander stalks - chopped
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
400ml coconut milk ( 1 tin, but have a spare one for after cooking as it may be needed.)

soy sauce to taste
lime juice to taste
a bunch of spring onions - sliced
fresh coriander leaves

Set you oven to 140 degC.
In a large, heavy bottomed frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Brown the duck legs on all sides, seasoning as you go. When thoroughly browned remove the legs from the pan and set aside. Pour off any excess fat, then, add in a little chicken stock and deglaze the pan  - scraping and stirring to clean off any darkened brown areas. Reserve the juices they are very flavourful.

Heat the rest of the oil in a large casserole over a moderate heat and fry the laksa paste along with the star anise, coriander seeds, cinnamon and chilli. Fry until soft then add in the lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, garlic, onion and coriander stalks and continue to fry for another 5 minutes. Now add the palm sugar, tamarind and fish sauce - stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock, the deglazed juices and the duck legs. Bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and transfer to your preheated oven. Braise for 2 hours - or until the meat is tender and pulls easily away from the bone.

If the sauce has reduced too much add in 1/2 a cup more or so coconut milk and return briefly to the oven to heat through. Adjust the seasoning with the soy & lime juice if necessary.

Serve with basmati rice and garnish with the spring onion and fresh coriander leaves.

Keep what you don't use in the fridge covered with some oil. It will keep for several weeks, or freeze it for up to 6 months.

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 star anise
1/2 stick cinnamon
30g green chillies - roughly chopped
1/2 a head garlic - peeled & roughly chopped
1 generous thumb size ginger - peeled & roughly chopped
3 lemongrass stalks -trimmed and sliced
7 kaffir lime leaves
handful coriander leaves & stalks
aproxx 75ml sunflower oil

Toast the coriander, cumin, star anise and cinnamon in a dry pan over a moderate heat until aromatic. Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and blend to get a rough paste. Add in the oil a little at a time until you have the a thick, smooth paste.