Well, well, well. This Duck Massaman Curry was as good as it looked.  Paired with rice noodles to soak up all of the rich, saucy goodness and a tangy cucumber pickle to cut right through that richness.  I just couldn’t stop there.  I had four duck skins that would end up in the bin so I did my research and low and behold, I made the crispiest, yummiest 5 Spice Duck scratchings to sit proudly on top of this stand out meal.  It is a little bit of a process, but so, so worth it.  You should seriously have a quack ……. I mean crack!

If you really don’t have the time or the inclination to make the Massaman paste, you can use a store bought variety.  I can guarantee it won’t taste as good but if you do, I recommend using this Massaman paste as it is one of the more authentic varieties.

Prep Time:  40  Minutes

Cooking time:  1 Hour

$$  Medium Budget

Serves 6 (or 4 with leftovers)

For the Massaman Paste:

50gm of roasted unsalted peanuts

1 large eschalot, peeled & roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass, finely sliced

1 tbs of brown sugar (not authentic, but I won’t use palm sugar)

2 tbs of fish sauce

1 tsp each of cumin & coriander seeds, toasted in a dry pan and then ground in a mortar & pestle

1/2 a grated nutmeg (I use fresh but 1/2 tsp of ground is fine)

1 tsp of ground cardamom

1/4 tsp of ground cloves

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

A dash of water if needed

For the Duck Massaman Curry:

4 duck breasts, skin removed & cut into 2cm chunks

3-4 tbs of Massaman Curry Paste (2 tbs if using store bought)

1 large brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced top to bottom

4 cardamom pods, bruised with the flat of your knife

3 whole star anise

2 tins of coconut milk

1 tbs of tamarind paste

3 large waxy potatoes, washed and cut into 2cm chunks (cream delight or kipfler are good as they really hold together)

1/2 a cup of raw cashews, toasted for garnish and roughly chopped

Thai basil leaves for garnish

1 packet of medium rice stick noodles, prepared according to packet instructions

For the Cucumber pickle:

2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled into thin ribbons, seeds discarded

2 tbs of rice wine vinegar

1 tbs of caster sugar

For the Duck Scratchings:

4 duck skins, cut into 1cm slices

A sprinkling of sea salt

1/2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder

To prepare the Duck Massaman Curry Paste, place all of the paste ingredients into a food processor or blender and blitz until you have a fine paste.  Add a dash of water if you need to loosen it slightly.

Heat a large, deep pan and add a little oil.  When the pan is really hot, fry the duck breast in batches until nicely seared and golden, remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining duck.  Once all the duck is seared, set it aside. Turn the pan down to medium and add a little more oil and lightly fry the onion until soft.  Add the cardamom and star anise and fry for 1 minute before adding the Massaman paste.  Fry for a couple of minutes until nice and fragrant then pour in the coconut milk, stirring to combine.  Bring to a simmer and cook, covered to infuse for 20 minutes then add the potato cubes, duck breast and tamarind paste, stirring to combine.  Simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife.  Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

While the Massaman curry is simmering, place the duck skin pieces in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water and set over a medium to low heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent the skin from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, until the mixture begins to simmer and bubble rapidly.  The liquid will turn cloudy after about 10 to 15 minutes. The water will eventually evaporate and the skin will start to turn crispy and golden.  Continue to stir until this happens and all of the skins are golden brown and crisp.  Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly before draining the fat through a fine sieve. You can use this fat for your next lot of baked spuds.  Pop it in a small jar and keep in the fridge.  Place the skins on a tray lined with baking paper and just before serving, reheat in a 220°C oven for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with sea salt and Chinese 5 spice and serve on top of the curry.

To make the pickle, whisk the sugar and vinegar together in a small bowl.  Toss the cucumber ribbons through the vinegar and set aside until ready to serve.  This is best served relatively fresh so the cucumber retains a little crunch.

To serve the curry, divide cooked rice or rice noodles between bowls.  Ladle the curry around the noodles and top with a mound of cucumber pickle, Thai basil leaves & toasted cashews.  Serve with the Duck scratchings.