Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Travelling to Eat: Halifax's Talay Thai and Red Curry with Duck. Mmmmm...

To eat is human. To digest, divine. – Charles T. Copeland

The Thai art of kae-sa-luk (cut vegetable garnish). Photo: Zerthan, Flickr ccl
When you’re in Halifax you should try to have a meal at one of the Thai restaurants we have in the city. My personal favourite is Talay Thai, 1261 Barrington Street. Being not too large, it offers a more or less intimate space for dinner, and way more than adequate food to enjoy.

Photo: reinvented, Flickr ccl
Talay Thai’s chef is directly from Thailand and the food served at the restaurant is based on authentic recipes. I have had excellent Phad Thai (although I like mine better, but I'm biased… see earlier post), and delicious fresh Spring Rolls, plus many other dishes. But the star as far as I’m concerned is Thai Red Curry with Duck.

Their Red Curry with Duck is a wonderful concoction of coconut, pineapple, grapes, kaffir lime, basil and of course, duck. Other meats are available on the menu for substitution in the basic red curry if you wish. 

Traditional red curry is a subtle blend of hot, salty, sweet and sour that is the basis of most Thai cuisine. Other traditional Thai ingredients such as fish sauce, galangal and lemongrass are often included as well.

If you’ve never had a red curry, you’re in for a treat. If you have, you’ll appreciate this recipe. It’s about as close as I can come to what they offer at Talay Thai. Whenever we go there, Red Curry with Duck is always one of the dishes we order to share.

Talay Thai web site. They have takeout!!
If you visit the restaurant (or their website) you will notice they also practice the the ancient Thai art of 'kae-sa-luk' (fruit and vegetable carving). It's a stunning, and oh so decadent touch and makes the pleasure of your meal even better when your plates come to the table. It is said that we eat with our eyes first.

Visit Their full menu is posted, including prices. They have quite a selection from which to choose.

If you need a great place to stay in Halifax, I can highly recommend a wonderful Victorian era Inn straight across the street called “The Waverley.” It boasts gorgeous period rooms and friendly, helpful staff, all at equal or less cost than what you would pay at a chain hotel.

Thai Red Curry with Duck
Serves 4

This Red Curry with Duck recipe will impress your family and guests and the exotic spices fill the air and your head with thoughts of Thailand.

Note: Cut the recipe in half for an impressive intimate dinner for two. Two duck breasts are (somewhat) less expensive to buy than a whole duck...

Photo: su-lin, Flickr ccl
Uncooked meat from 1 duck, sliced into bite sized pieces (with little or no fat)
3 cups coconut milk
3 tbsp red curry paste
1/4 cup ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 shallots, sliced
2 cups Chinese snake beans, cut in 2” lengths*
2 cups pineapple chunks
2 firm Roma tomatoes, sliced into rings
1 cup halved grapes
1/2 cup Thai basil, chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Coriander leaves for garnish

Heat a wok over high heat. Ad 1/2 cup of the coconut milk  and add the curry paste, ginger and garlic. Cook for about 5 minute, until very fragrant. You will notice the oil starting to separate from the coconut milk.

Add the duck meat, fish sauce, brown sugar, shallots and snake beans to the wok. Fry until the duck is no longer raw on the outside, about 2 more minutes. 

Snake beans. Photo:
A culinary (Photo) Journal,
Flickr ccl
Add the remaining coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the pineapple, tomatoes and grapes. Simmer for 1-2 minutes more.

Stir in the chopped basil. Remove the curry from the heat and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the shredded kaffir lime leaves. Bring the curry to the table along with individual serving bowls. 

Sprinkle peanuts and coriander on top each serving. Accompany with steamed scented jasmine rice.

* Snake beans, often called long beans, are exactly that—long. Actually very long. They are a common ingredient in both Chinese and Indian cooking. They can be purchased at Chinese groceries or any specialty grocers (like Pete's Frootique in Halifax). Use any leftover snake beans in the same way as you would our normal green beans. Or substitute green beans in the recipe above if necessary.


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