Duck laap, like other laap dishes, uses the whole duck, head to tail – including its meat, skin, internal organs, and bones. The recipe I provide below is modified for home-style cooking and uses duck parts; in the village environment, the duck is butchered and the bird is allowed to bleed completely, the blood is collected, and the bird is then cleaned and plucked.
To mince the meat, it is pounded with a knife on a cutting board until smooth, with no chunks of meat visible. Using a meat grinder or an electric food processor is not recommended; not only will the texture vary, but the pounding of the knife charges the meat with energy that is lost if shortcuts are taken.
In the traditional Issan fashion, the minced meat is massaged with sour fruits or lime juice to acid-cook it and deodorize its gaminess. The liquids are then squeezed and collected. These liquids, together with the duck bones, fermented fish sauce and aromatics, are used to create a broth in which the minced duck meat is cooked.
The duck’s internal organs are cleaned and cooked with aromatics such as lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to deodorize them. The organs are then cut into thin slices and added to the laap.
The duck skin is fried in its own fat until crispy, adding crunchiness and texture to the dish.
Like other Issan-style laap dishes, the laap is seasoned with fish sauce, lime juice and ground chilies, to a spicy, slightly sour over the salty flavor profile. Ground roasted rice and herbs are added to finish the dish.
In the following version, the internal organs are omitted, as I use duck parts. I also use a concentrated stock to cook the minced meat and further deepen the richness and nuttiness of the dish by using roasted rice mixed with roasted white sesame seeds. I roast the rice and sesame seeds to the same color so that their smokiness to nuttiness ratio is compatible.
Essential Cooking Skills:
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- 1 1/2 cups duck meat (เนื้อเป็ด)
- 1/2 cup duck skin (หนังเป็ด)
- 2 tablespoons shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon crispy fried Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทยเจียว)
For the stock:
- 1 chicken carcass (ซี่โครงไก่) or
- 1 duck carcass (โครงเป็ด)
- 3 pieces coriander roots (รากผักชี) scraped, washed and chopped
- 8 cloves Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) กระเทียม
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1)
- 3 cups water (น้ำเปล่า)
- 1 part fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 part lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1 tablespoon sesame-roasted rice (ข้าวคั่วงา)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili (พริกป่น)
- 1/2 tablespoon sawtooth coriander (ผักชีฝรั่ง) roughly chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon spring onion (ต้นหอม) thinly sliced
For the sesame-roasted rice:
- 1 parts ground roasted glutinous rice (khao khua) (ข้าวคั่ว)
- 1/4 part white sesame seeds (งาขาว) roasted and grounded
- dried Thai bird’s eye chili (phrik kee noo) (พริกขี้หนููแห้ง) fried whole
- duck skin (หนังเป็ด) crispy fried
- crispy fried Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทยเจียว)
Prepare the sesame-roasted rice:
- In a pan, over very low heat, roast uncooked glutinous rice until lightly golden. Set aside.
- In a pan, over very low heat, roast white sesame seeds until lightly golden. Set aside.
- The rice and sesame seeds should match in color; this indicates that each ingredient has a similar ratio of smokiness to nuttiness.
- Let the rice and sesame seeds cool to room temperature, then measure and mix together 1/4 part of sesame seeds for every part of roasted rice. Transfer the rice-sesame mix to a mortar and pestle and grind it into a fine sand-like texture, using the pestle in a round circular motion. Set aside.
Prepare a concentrated stock:
- If you are using a chicken or duck carcass, wash the carcass thoroughly and, as much as possible, remove any internal organs still attached to the bones.
- In a pot, bring water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the saam gluuhr (สามเกลอ): coriander roots, Thai garlic, and white peppercorns.
- Add the carcass or the duck bones.
- Skim off any foam and scum floating on top of the stock. Simmer on low heat and reduce to a concentrated stock.
Prepare the duck meat:
- On a cutting board and using a knife, mince the duck meat to a smooth consistency. Do not use a meat grinder or an electric food processor.
- Place the meat in a pot and mix with just enough of the stock to wet the meat.
- Place the pot on medium heat, constantly stirring, and cook the meat thoroughly, adding stock if necessary. When finished, the duck meat should be moist with no liquids.
Prepare the crispy fried Thai garlic:
- In a mortar and pestle, pound unpeeled Thai garlic. Use just enough force to mash the garlic cloves, leaving the peels intact. Do not try to make a smooth paste. The peels will crisp fry and add a desired textural element.
- To a cold wok, add the pounded Thai garlic, cover with cold oil or pork lard, and turn the heat to medium-low.
- Stir the garlic constantly in one direction only until the peels are light golden in color. Pour the hot oil and garlic into a container and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, strain the oil, and set the fried garlic aside.
Prepare the crispy duck skin and fried bird’s eye chilies:
- Slice the duck skin into thin elongated strips.
- On very low heat in a nonstick pan with a lid, add some of the garlic oil.
- Render the fat from the skins and continue frying until the skins turn golden and crispy. Drain and set aside.
- Fry the skin on very low heat until crispy.
- Add dried bird’s eye chilies and fry until crisp and shiny.
- Set aside.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients:
- Thinly slice the shallots, lengthwise along the growth axis. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the spring onion. Set aside.
- Slice the sawtooth coriander into wide juliennes. Set aside.
Combine the laap:
- In a mixing bowl, add the cooked duck meat. Add the wet ingredients: Add fish sauce.
- Add lime juice.
- Mix the meat with the seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. It should be slightly sour over salty.
- When you are satisfied with the seasoning, add the dry ingredients. Add the ground roasted rice.
- Add ground chilies.
- Add the crispy fried Thai garlic and crispy duck skin. Keep some of the crispy skin for garnish.
- Add the sliced shallots and the herbs.