Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies (แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง ; gaaeng khiaao waan bpet yang)

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By: Hanuman, Thaan Khun and Chef Thapakorn Lertviriyavit (Gorn)

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แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies

Green curry, with its mellow, creamy green color and rich coconut base, has both fresh and mature flavors. Like new growth on plants, it brings brightness, youthfulness, spring and rebirth to the meltdown of flavors created in the curry paste.

The green curry paste uses mainly the same standard ingredients as Thai spicy-red curry paste: lemongrass, coriander roots, kaffir lime zest, galangal, garlic, shallots, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt and kapi.

There is one exception – the dry red chili peppers are replaced with fresh green chilies. These bring to the curry a fresh green taste with shades of bitterness, but also the same rich, mature notes bestowed by the dried red pods. If a more vivid, definite green color is desired, the green chlorophyll – the color of growth – from fresh chili pepper leaves or coriander leaves can be added.

This is the standard green curry paste for common odorless meats such as chicken and pork; if gamey or fishy meat is used, additional aromatics and herbs are employed to counter the stronger smell. For beef, additional dry spices like mace, nutmeg and Thai cardamom are often added. Fingerroot (grachai, กระชาย) and a small amount of fresh sand ginger (หัวเปราะ) are added to the green curry paste when using fish; and if duck is used, fresh sand ginger (หัวเปราะ), along with fresh peppercorns, are often added.

In Thai, the word aawn waan (อ่อนหวาน) is used to describe the mild, pleasant, mellow, pastel green shade of the green curry. The expression means “soft-sweet”, which is perhaps why green curry is often seasoned to the sweet spectrum. This exaggerated sweetness is pleasing to the Western palate, making green curry a favorite Thai dish among foreigners. The truth is that the authentic flavor profile of green curry should not be so different from spicy-red curry, i.e. spicy-salty, with a sweetness found in the base of the coconut cream.

Today we will demonstrate a green curry recipe from the 1926 cookbook, “khuu meuu maae kruaa” (คู่มือแม่ครัว), written by an author who goes by the pen name Lor. Phaehtraarat (ล. เภตรารัตน์). This is the earliest mention of green curry that we could find in print.

Ancient Thai curries evolved from water-based dishes (bplaa raa ปลาร้า, gaaeng liiang แกงเลียง, gaaeng dtohm sohm แกงต้มส้ม) that used only fermented fish (pla ra) or fermented shrimp paste (kapi), along with shallots and garlic. Until chili peppers were introduced in the 16th century by the Europeans, other pungent agents such as white peppercorns, fingerroot (grachai), ginger and galangal were utilized to achieve spiciness. Coconuts had been abundant in Siam for millennia, and were used for dessert making rather than cooking; encounters with Persian, Indian and Malay cuisines introduced the coconut into curry making. Only then – when chilies were available, and the technique of cooking coconut-based curries was adapted and gradually modified, and applied to suit the Siamese palate – do we find the typical red Thai curries.

Those dishes are dressed in a passionate and determined red. The green curry is probably the youngest addition to the curry color spectrum, as it is not mentioned in Siamese oral or written literature, nor does it appear in the oldest set of Thai cookbooks. Examining old cookbooks, we can safely determine that green curry was invented during the reign of King Rama 6 or Rama 7, between the years 1908-1926.

Historical references
Green curry is not found in the 1890 (2433 BE, 109RE) cookbook “Tam Raa Gap Khao”, by Maawm Sohm Jeen (“ตำรากับเข้า” หม่อมซ่มจีน ราชานุประพันธุ์”). Nor is it mentioned in Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s cookbook “Maae Khruaa Huaa Bpaa” (“แม่ครัวหัวป่าก์”), which was first published in 1908 after a short period of publishing recipes in the city magazine “Bpradtithin Bat Laae Joht Maai Haeht” (“ประติทินบัตร แล จดหมายเหตุ”). Lady Plean recounts that she was required to edit most of that monumental work – spread over five volumes – herself, as the editor had decamped due to a romantic affair.

Green curry is also absent from the major revisions of Lady Plean’s work carried out by her daughters and granddaughters. This includes the revised third edition in 1952, which was supervised by Lady Plean’s daughter Lady Damrong Ratchapolkhan (Puang Bunnag) (คุณหญิงดำรงราชพลขันธ์, พวง บุนนาค); in this edition, the entire measuring and weight system was updated – rewritten from traditional Thai to modern units – and the collection was bound into one book that spans more than 635 pages.

Green curry only appears in the 1971 fifth edition of “Maae Khruaa Huaa Bpaa”, printed as a memorial book for Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s daughter Jao Jaawm Phit, and overseen by Mrs. Samaknantapol (Jeep Bunnag) (นางสมรรคนันทพล, จีบ บุนนาค).

Thus, the earliest mention of green curry that we could find (and we welcome readers’ comments of any earlier mentions) remain confined to the two cookbooks of Lor. Phaehtraarat (ล. เภตรารัตน์), published in 1926 (2469 BE) and in 1934 (2477 BE), “Khuu Meuu Maae Kruaa and Dtam Raa Khaao Waan” (คู่มือแม่ครัว และ ตำราคาวหวาน); both describe a method of cooking duck curry.

คู่มือแม่ครัว ล. เภตรารัตน์Cooking tips

  • When cooking green curry, one should use only green or whitish vegetables, and restrict garnishes to green chilies, hair-thin julienned kaffir lime leaves or Thai sweet basil (horapa).
  • Potential vegetables are Thai apple eggplants, pea eggplants or young coconut tops.
  • We chose to use a restaurant-made Thai-style whole roasted duck. If you cannot find one, or wish to make your own, you are welcome to follow your favorite recipe for whole duck or duck breasts.

Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies Recipe
 
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This is a green curry recipe from the 1926 cookbook, “khuu meuu maae kruaa” (คู่มือแม่ครัว), written by an author who goes by the pen name Lor. Phaehtraarat (ล. เภตรารัตน์). This is the earliest mention of green curry that we could find in print.
By:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4

Ingredients

 
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted duck meat
  • 1 cup green curry paste
  • 4 cups coconut cream
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • young green chilies 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 cups Thai basil leaves
Green curry paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh bird's eye chilies
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons galangal, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coriander roots
  • 1/2 tablespoon kaffir lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon chili pepper leaves
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Thai garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste (kapi)
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
  • 4 Thai cardamom pods
Method
  1. Green young chilies.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  2. Restaurant-made roasted duck
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  3. An overview image of the curry paste ingredients.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  4. Pound all the ingredients into a smooth paste. Set them aside.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  5. In a cooking pot, heat the coconut cream until it breaks (cracked), and oil appears.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  6. Fry the curry paste in the cracked coconut, gradually adding more coconut cream.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  7. Add hand-torn kaffir lime leaves, ground roasted cumin seeds, and ground roasted coriander seeds.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  8. Add coconut milk.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  9. Add palm sugar.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  10. Add fish sauce.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  11. Add coconut cream.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  12. Add ground roasted cumin seeds and ground roasted coriander seeds.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  13. Add the roasted duck.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  14. Add the green young chilies
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  15. Add kaffir lime leaves.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  16. Add Thai basil.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  17. Add coconut cream.
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies
  18. Serve
    แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง - Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies

 

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