In a small saute pan, dry roast the cumin, coriander, and pepper until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes and then grind into a powder. In a food processor, puree the shallots, garlic, lemon grass, galangal, and cilantro. Add the pureed chiles, tomato paste, lime juice, shrimp paste, ground spices, and blend until smooth.;
In a heavy bottomed pot over high heat, season the duck legs with salt and pepper and sear until golden brown. Remove the duck legs and using the same pot, saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the curry paste to the onions and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 2 minutes. Return the duck legs to the pot and fill with enough water to just cover the duck. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat falls off the bone. Remove from heat and when cool, pick all of the meat off the bones and add only the meat to the remaining broth.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the duck broth, rice, scallions, and red bell pepper. Season with the salt and pepper. Lay a banana leaf shiny side down, and place about 1 cup of the rice mixture in the center of the leaf. Fold the ends over the rice to form a sealed packed. Continue making the tamales. Using a wok or a double boiler, steam the tamales until the rice is very hot, about 10 to 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn, red onion, papaya, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, cumin, salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for about 1 hour for the lime juice to soften the papaya.
TAMARIND GLAZE: 1 cup tamarind paste 1/4 cup sliced shallots 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped 1/2 cup lemon grass, sliced 2 Kaffir lime leaves 2 Thai bird chiles 1/2 cup crushed rock sugar 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed, toasted 2 quarts chicken stock or water Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium, non-reactive pot, combine the tamarind paste, shallots, garlic, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, Thai bird chiles, rock sugar, cumin seed, water, salt and pepper. Simmer lightly for about one hour until the glaze is thick and syrupy. Strain and season with salt.
DUCK BREAST 4 (6 1/2-ounce) duck breasts 1 cup tamarind glaze Salt and pepper, to taste
Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin, in half- inch intervals. Season the duck with the salt and pepper and place skin side down on a hot grill. Be careful of the errant flames that may flare up. Continuously brush the duck with the tamarind glaze as it cooks. Flip the duck when the skin is very golden and continue to brush with the glaze. Cook for about 7 minutes more for medium rare. Allow the duck to rest for 3 minutes before slicing.
GARNISH: Red corn tortillas Canola oil, for frying 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup sliced scallions
Using a sharp knife, cut the tortilla into thin strips. Fill a fryer or medium heavy pot 1/3 full with oil and heat over high heat to 350 degrees. Add the tortillas and fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with the cumin and salt.
PLATING Place a hot tamale on each plate and make a cut down the center. Squeeze the 2 sides together, like you would to a baked potato. Thinly slice each duck breast and fan it out, skin side up, around each tamale. Place a mound of the salsa in the center between the duck and tamale, and top with the tortilla. Drizzle some of the remaining glaze around the plate and sprinkle with the sliced scallions.
Wine suggestion: Bedford Thompson Cabernet Franc 1995
Copyright 2000, Ming Tsai and Tom Berry, All Rights Reserved