Red Curry Mock Duck with Three Oranges
In the dark, cold months of January and February, we can thank the citrus growers of Florida and California for shipping us rays of edible sunshine. Just as the winds howl and the snowbanks grow tall in Minnesota, our southern neighbors are harvesting juicy citrus fruit to soothe our shivering palates.
If your only exposure to the tangy citrus fruit of the season is the occasional orange in your lunch box, you are missing out. The breadth and depth of my Coop’s citrus display is impressive, with multiple varieties of oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, and the exotic kumquat variations. Of course, the mandarins are perfect for snacks and lunches, and you can’t beat an orange for pack-ability. But these versatile fruits are a real culinary bonanza, when you start using them to brighten up your wintry fare.
Start Cooking with Citrus
All the citrus fruits have their own flavor profiles, with varying levels of sweetness, acidity and perfume. The oranges we get are sweet oranges, unless you are talking about blood oranges, which are often quite tangy. I’ve fallen in a big way for Cara Cara oranges, which have a deep pink flesh and sweet, rich flavor. I happened upon a new variety, called Raspberry Oranges, which I used in this dish. They taste like sweet oranges, with red flesh and a hint of raspberry flavor. Lemons and limes are where you get a burst of acid to balance a dish. Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than regular lemons, and have a unique fragrance, so buy them when you see them.
The real adventure begins when you start experimenting with the -quats. First there were kumquats, which are like tiny, super tart oranges that you eat whole. Then creative breeders started mixing things up, and now we have limequats, lemonquats, mandarinquats, Fukushu Kumquats (half mandarin) and Variegated (striped) kumquats. If you get lucky, you might see a Calamansi or Calamondin, a hybrid from China that is very popular in the Phillipines.
I sliced some “tangerinequats” I bought at the Coop, which manage to be both sweet and very tart at the same time. They make a perfect garnish on top of my creamy curry, to blast through the richness in between bites.
Start Seeing Zest!
Each beautiful citrus fruit is really three ingredients. There is the pulp, or vesicles, the juice, and the zest, each with its own uses and powers. Whenever I want powerful flavor, I look to zest. In this recipe, I simmer the sauce with both orange zest and a halved lime which will give the sauce both zest and juice by the time it’s served.
Zest comes from the outermost layer of the peel, or pericarp, where the oils of the fruit protect it from drying out. The fluffy white pith acts as packing material for the delicate vesicles inside, allowing them to ripen to maturity. The oils in the zest contain intense flavor that will transfer over to the fats in your dish, in this case, the coconut milk carries them beautifully throughout the sauce.
I may be burying the lead, but I serve this curry over Fonio. I’ve been cooking with fonio for years, and it’s becoming more available. If you see Fonio, buy it, you will love it.
For me, it’s time to soothe myself with citrus, and keep my Vitamin C levels up until Spring. What a beautiful way to do self-care!
Red Curry Mock Duck with 3 Oranges and Fonio
- 1 15 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 large shallot chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste or more to taste
- 2 large cara cara orange, zest of one peeled off in a strip fruit sectioned
- 1/2 large lime
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 10 ounce cans mock duck drained and torn
- 2 large raspberry or blood oranges sectioned
- 1 large tangerinequat or other -quat thinly sliced
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fonio
- In a large skillet or wok, pour the coconut milk, then place over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, turmeric, ginger and curry paste. When the coconut milk comes to a boil, add the orange zest, lime half, vegetable stock and tamari. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Add the butternut squash and mock duck and bring to a boil, then cover the pan for about 5 minutes. When the squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife, adjust the thickness of the sauce with a little water, if too thick, or simmer it longer if you want it a little thicker.
- Section the oranges and slice the tangerinequat. Serve the curry over fonio, garnished with orange sections and sliced -quat.
- For fonio, bring 2 cups water to a boil, stir in fonio and salt. Return to a boil, reduce to low,and cover for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.