Friday, 25 February 2011

Duck with Shitake Mushrooms

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.

When the duck is finished cooking - a matter of five minutes per side - remove and leave to rest. Wipe out the pan, return the mushrooms to it, with a teaspoon of sugar, a splash of soy sauce, and enough water to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and leave on a low heat for about 5-10 minutes, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate and soak back into the mushrooms. If you like, strip the fat from the duck, before slicing into thick bite-sized pieces. You're aiming for a nice juicy pink colour, with clear or slightly pinkish juices. Arrange over the salad, and serve with the rice and mushrooms, sprinkled with fresh coriander or mint leaves.

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