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Grilled Duck with Red Curry Sauce

Grilled Duck with Red Curry Sauce

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
Roasted Chinese duck—as seen hanging in storefront windows—is traditionally used for this Thai recipe. When roasted duck is not available, you’ll find that it is easy to marinate and grill your own, as directed in the recipe below. Steamed rice makes a good accompaniment.


  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus salt, to taste
  • 6 duck breast halves, each 4 to 6 oz.
  • 2 cans (each 13 1/2 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 8 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 red chilies, seeded and sliced
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil or sweet basil leaves, plus leaves for garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a large glass bowl, combine the garlic, granulated sugar, rice wine, light soy sauce, sesame oil, dark soy sauce, ginger, five-spice powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. Using a fork, prick the duck skin at 1-inch intervals. Add the duck to the bowl and turn to coat evenly, rubbing the marinade on both sides of the breast halves. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Meanwhile, open the cans of coconut milk without shaking them. Spoon the thick layer of cream on top into a bowl. In a wok over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup of the cream and the red curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the cream is aromatic and beads of oil float on top, about 3 minutes. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, lime leaves, chilies and the remaining coconut cream and milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pineapple and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Remove from the heat and keep warm while grilling the duck.

When the coals are medium-hot, remove the duck from the marinade, discarding the marinade, and place directly on the grill rack, skin side down. Grill until the fat is rendered from the skin and the skin is crisp, about 8 minutes. Turn and grill until the duck is fully cooked and, when pressed, feels firm to the touch on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the duck across the grain into slices 1/4 inch thick.

To serve, arrange 1 sliced duck breast half on each plate. Spoon the curry sauce over the top and garnish with the basil leaves.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Asian Flavors, by Joyce Jue (Time-Life Books, 1999).