Served alongside steamed jasmine rice and garnished with fresh lime and cilantro, this Thai-style red coconut curry is a delicious, restaurant-style dish that’s really easy to make at home.
Many Thai restaurants include a variety of duck dishes on their menus and there is a good reason for that. Duck has a distinctive flavor that can really hold its own when paired with the bold, fragrant spices of Thai cuisine.
Alternately, you can replace the duck with stir-fried chunks of pork tenderloin and we’ve included brief instructions for that in the recipe notes below.
Tips for making this easy Thai curry recipe
This dish comes together in just a few simple steps, but there are a few tips to making it a success.
- Use good quality curry paste: If you want to reproduce authentic Thai flavors in your home kitchen, you’ll need a great red curry paste. Our favorite is Aroy-D with Maesri a close runner-up. Both of these brands can be found in Asian grocery stores and online from Amazon and Import Foods (our favorite source for Thai ingredients).
- Use regular, not low-fat coconut milk: Low-fat coconut milk will not give you the silky, smooth texture you’re most likely looking for in a coconut curry dish.
- Don’t overcook your protein: Duck (and the pork tenderloin in our variation) are best when served at medium doneness. Since this recipe calls for cooking your meat ahead, then adding it back into the prepared sauce, it’s especially important that you don’t overcook it in that first step.
- Fresh vs. frozen mango: If possible, use fresh mango, but if you do need to use frozen, defrost it in a colander before you add it to the curry as it often gives off some liquid that could potentially water down the sauce.
- Use fresh lime and cilantro: The bright flavors of both of these ingredients bring a lot to this dish. The acidity of the lime cuts through the richness of the coconut milk and duck, and the sprinkling of fresh cilantro adds a fragrant and cooling contrast to the heat of the curry.
If you like duck, try our recipe for Duck Breast a l’Orange. It’s an easy-to-make version of the French classic and there’s a lot of good information in the post about shopping for duck breasts and cooking techniques.
Thai Mango Curry Duck
- 4 boneless duck breasts Pekin/Long Island, or 1 pork tenderloin – see notes
- 1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
- 1-1/3 cups coconut milk
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons red curry paste, see notes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 servings cooked Jasmine rice
- Being careful not to cut into the meat, score the skin on each duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern at 1/4-inch intervals. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the duck breasts, skin side down in a heavy frying pan over medium heat (about 275°F) to render the fat. You want to see the fat begin to melt and sizzle slightly, but you are not trying to achieve a quick sear at this point.
- Without turning, continue cooking the duck for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the majority of the fat has rendered from the breast and the skin is golden brown and crisp.
- Once the duck skin is crisp, pour off the fat and turn the breasts over. Raise the heat slightly and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 125°F (medium-rare), 3 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- While the duck is cooking, add the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to a bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Taste and add more curry paste if desired. Set aside.
- Return the pan you cooked the duck to the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add the minced garlic and red bell pepper strips and stir-fry just until the garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.
- Stir in the coconut milk mixture and bring it to a slow simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the mango and scallions.
- Return the duck to the pan, coat in sauce, and simmer just long enough to heat through.
- To serve, plate individual portions of jasmine rice, duck, mango, and bell pepper. Spoon some sauce over each serving and garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Transfer the remaining sauce to a serving bowl to pass at the table.
Pork tenderloin variation:Pork tenderloin can be substituted for the duck in this recipe. Here’s how to prepare it:
- Trim the silverskin from the tenderloin, quarter it lengthwise and cut it into bite-sized chunks.
- Season lightly with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Add a small amount of oil to a frying pan and place over medium-high heat.
- Add the pork and stir fry until lightly browned on the outside and rosy pink inside. Do not overcook.
- Remove from the pan and proceed with the balance of the recipe as written.