Thai Red Curry with Duck and Lychees

You know you are a foodie when…
You try to hit every restaurant when it opens, and you have an opinion about all of them. You spend the lion’s share of your hard-earned salary dining out, drinking wine, and shopping at City super. You look up for good restaurants on the fork/ urbanspoon /opentable and mark your mealtime on the itinerary before you travel to a new city. You know what’s important in life, and it is all about saving your food quota for excellent things…

I guess foodie genes run in the family, I was born in a family that appreciates, or, more precisely- celebrates good food. Despite everyone’s busy schedule, we try hard to gather round dinner table to share a meal (and complain about work) at least every week. I have always believed in the power of food to magically create intimacy, conviviality and community. Weekly dinner with my parents is still a ritual that I hold dear and near to my heart after I got married and moved out. Returning home for familiar dishes that I enjoyed as a kid makes me feel connected to the family. Just like any master home cook, my mother rarely uses recipe. Very different from my obsessive, strictly regimented method of cooking, she cooks everything from memory. In my mother’s kitchen, there are no scales, no measurements, yet no mistakes.

She’s never really taught me how to make her signature curry, but here’s my version.

curry duck 1 curry duck 2


Ingredients:

  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 50ml of water + 100ml of chicken stock
  • 4 lime leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes halved
  • half can of lychees

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Pierce the duck’s skin all over with a toothpick. (This step allows a well-crisped skin!)
3. Pan-fry the duck legs in an ovenproof pan on low heat for 10-15 mins, turning once, until coloured all over.
4. Remove duck leg from the pan. Add the sugar to the duck fat in the pan and cook until caramelised, then add the curry paste and cook for few mins until fragrant.
5. Stir in the coconut milk, chicken stock and water. Simmer until everything is combined
6. Add the fish sauce, tomatoes and lime leaves.
7. Slip in the duck legs, cover the pan and cook in the oven for 1½ hrs until the duck is tender.
8. Cooked uncovered in the oven for an extra 30mins.
9. Place the pan back on the heat, add the lychee and simmer for 2 mins.


 

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Crème brûlée au foie gras

Amélie Poulain cultive un goût particulier pour les tous petits plaisirs. Elle aime plonger sa main au plus profond d’un sac de grain… briser la croûte des crèmes brûlées avec la pointe de la petite cuillère… et faire des ricochets sur le Canal Saint-Martin…

Translate as: Amélie is simple; she has devoted herself to simple pleasures, such as cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, going for walks in the Paris sunshine, skipping stones across St. Martin’s Canal…

cremebrulee

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain happens to be my favorite movie. It is a film so original, so funny, and so warm that it made my heart smile. It is heart-warming, not in the phony Hollywood movie sense; but in the sense of how good you feel when laughing with a dear, dear friend.

You may wonder what my favorite movie has to do with a cooking blog… Well, a memorable thing about Amélie is that she likes cracking the caramelized sugar crust on the top of crème brûlée with the back of a tiny spoon. Breaking into the top of crème brûlée truly is wonderful, from the sound of the cracking to the textural contrast between the thick, crusty sugar shell and the delicate, smooth custard underneath.

While I adore the classic crème brûlée, I’ve decided to be adventurous and create a savory version this time, as an homage to the lovely, curious lead character. The luscious foie gras complements the silky custard, with the sugar coat together they create a sublime contrast: each bite, crunchy and smooth, toasty and lush, is a revelation.

foie gras creme brulee

foie gras creme brulee too

Crème brûlée is an awesome canvas to let your imagination run wild. I have seen interesting variations made with coffee, lavender, ginger, parmesan cheese… Hope you all have fun with your food experiments! And by all means don’t be afraid of trying something new!

Ingredients

  • 150g duck foie gras (I use Rougie bloc de foie gras)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 15ml milk
  • 150g whipping cream
  • Half cup of white sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 deg C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cut the foie gras into pieces. Add the whipping cream.
  3. Add in milk and egg yolks.
  4. Season with salt, pepper.
  5. Combine with a hand mixer until the mixture is homogenous.
  6. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (this water bath with prevent cracks in the custard)
  7. Bake at 100°C for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is softly set.

(Gently sway the ramekins and if the crème brûlées are ready, they will wobble a bit like a jelly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.)

  1. Lift the ramekins out of the roasting pan with oven gloves and allow them to cool at room temperature for 30min.
  2. Put in the fridge to cool completely, at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Sift a generous amount of sugar evenly over custard. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top.
  4. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.