Today I felt like something warming and delicious, but not too heavy. It's also getting toward the end of the week so I have a few ingredients which are beginning to look a bit tattered. So here's a fresh take on duck for spring, with a sweet and crip salad and smoky shitake mushrooms. This morning I put the marinade on the duck, a matter of a few minutes work, and this evening the meal took about half an hour to prepare. We settled down and watched 'In Bruges', which was rather excellent!
For the marinaded duck:
- a few splashes of soy sauce
- a few splashes of fish sauce
- a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
- a clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp of Szechuan peppercorns (or substitute 1tsp black peppercorns if unavailable), pounded
- juice of one lemon
- Two duck breasts
For the salad:
- Three small or two large pears
- Half a bulb of fennel
- a small bag or bunch of watercress
- juice of one lime
For the rest:
- A handful of fresh shitake mushrooms (or soaked, dried)
- 1/2 tsp of sugar
- soy sauce
- short grain Asian or 'fragrant' rice
Between 6 and 36 hours before you want to cook, marinade the duck breasts in the marinade ingredients, covered in the fridge.
Set the rice cooking according to the instructions (I use 2:1 water:rice, barely simmering, covered for 10 minutes). Heat a medium-sized heavy-based non-stick frying pan to moderate heat, and place the duck breasts fat-side down. While the duck fries and the rice cooks, thickly slice the mushrooms and add them to the fat rendering from the duck, tossing occasionally. You'll need to turn the duck after about five minutes; don't be worried if the fat is blackened a little on the outside by this time. Remove the mushrooms when they have turned dark gold and shrunk slightly.
While the duck and mushrooms cook, using a sharp knife, slice the fennel as thinly as possible, reserving the fluffy heads if they have them. Peel and cut the pear into long, thin slices. Wash and roughly shred the watercress. Combine the salad ingredients, tossing in the lime juice and a little olive oil if you like.