Going coco

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's wok-fried duck with coconut milk, Thai basil and vermicelli noodles.
Neil Perry's wok-fried duck with coconut milk, Thai basil and vermicelli noodles. Photo: William Meppem

Bring joy to tonight’s dinner with coconut's many-splendoured zing.


600g duck breasts, skin on, trimmed, cut into strips

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 lemongrass stem, white part only, finely sliced

1 long red chilli, sliced on the diagonal

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large white onion, cut into 1cm slices

1 1/4 cups coconut milk


2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp tamarind pulp

1 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of sea salt

2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles, to serve

1/4 cup golden-fried, crispy eschalots,

to garnish

1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, to garnish

Serves 4

Place the duck,
garlic, lemongrass and chilli in a bowl and mix well.

Place 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a hot wok over a high heat. Add duck mixture in batches and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until cooked, then remove the duck.

Add remaining oil and onion to wok and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden. Return the duck mixture to wok, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind pulp, caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Simmer for a few minutes. Check seasoning.

To serve, place some blanched vermicelli noodles in four bowls. Place the wok-fried duck on top and garnish with the crispy eschalots and Thai basil. Serve immediately.



110g raspberry jam

250g plain flour

15g baking powder

350g caster sugar

100g desiccated coconut

3 eggs, lightly beaten

350ml milk

5ml vanilla extract

150g unsalted butter, melted

cream, lightly whipped, to serve

Serves 8-10

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spread jam over the base of a 2-litre pie dish.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients except the cream and whisk them by hand until just combined.

Pour coconut mixture into the pie dish and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the centre springs lightly when pressed with your finger.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with lightly whipped cream.


• Any meal with duck seems slightly decadent - which is why I love this dish.

• Feel free to add or take away any number of items here to suit your palate. I like to add coriander, long-leafed mint and fried garlic slithers, and I'll sometimes swap the vermicelli for fresh, thick rice noodles. All delicious!

• You can use chicken instead of duck - or try squid, crab, prawns or sliced beef.

• The pudding is old-school. I love it because you can serve it straight from the pie dish (choose something really gorgeous to go straight to the table) - no fiddling around with pastry or turning things out. It's the perfect fail-proof dinner-party dessert!


Highlight the aromas of Thai basil and lemongrass with a refreshing yet complex lager like 4 Pines Kolsch Lager, (about $21 for six), originating in Cologne, Germany, but crafted in Manly, NSW. Its citrus flavour complements this aromatic dish.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.