Barbecue duck curry with lychees

Murdoch Recipe Article Lead - narrow
Murdoch Recipe Article Lead - narrow 

This colourful curry features the delicate appeal of lychees. Native to China but now grown in southeast Asia and India, lychees have a creamy, sweet flesh and gentle perfume. The spice paste is earthy and peppery, rather than hot, and balances well with the rich-tasting meat and coconut.


Curry paste

1 teaspoon white peppercorns

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

3 seeded long red chillies

1 red onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 lemon grass stems, white part only, thinly sliced

5cm  piece ginger

3 roots coriander

5 kaffir lime leaves

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 Chinese barbecue duck

400ml coconut cream

1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 thick slice galangal

240g tinned straw mushroom, drained

400g tinned lychees, cut in half (reserve ¼ cup syrup)

250g cherry tomatoes

1 handful Thai basil, chopped

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped


1. Dry-fry the peppercorns and the shrimp paste wrapped in some foil in a frying pan over medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool.

Using a mortar with a pestle, or a spice grinder, crush or grind the peppercorns to a powder. Put the crushed peppercorns and the shrimp with the remaining curry paste ingredients in a food processor, or in a mortar with a pestle, and process or pound to a smooth paste.

2. Remove the duck meat from the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Put the thick coconut cream from the top of the tin in a saucepan, bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5– 10 minutes, or until the mixture 'splits' (the oil starts to separate).

Add half the curry paste, palm sugar and fish sauce and stir until the palm sugar is dissolved. Add the duck, galangal, straw mushrooms, lychees, reserved lychee syrup and remaining coconut cream. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until the duck is tender.

3. Add the cherry tomatoes, basil and coriander. Season to taste. Serve when the cherry tomatoes are slightly softened.