Bang bang turkey

Bang bang turkey is likely to woo the most hardened turkey sceptics.
Bang bang turkey is likely to woo the most hardened turkey sceptics.  Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Bang bang chicken is a traditional Sichuan dish named for the sound the street vendors made while banging the chicken with wooden batons to shred the meat. I've subbed out the chicken for turkey to give this traditional dish a Christmas spin. If your knife skills aren't up to scratch, ask your butcher to remove the legs and thighs from the turkey as marylands and leave the breasts attached to the crown.


1 small turkey (2-2.5kg)

1kg duck fat

2 tbsp sesame oil

For the spiced salt

4 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

2 tbsp coriander seeds

4 whole star anise

4 tbsp sea salt

For the salad

2 Lebanese cucumbers

1 tbsp sea salt

1 bunch coriander leaves, picked and washed

½ bunch spring onions, sliced

100g bean sprouts

2 tbsp black sesame seeds

2 tbsp white sesame seeds

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and ground

Strange flavour dressing

60g castor sugar

60g Chinese sesame paste*

60ml light soy sauce

60ml black vinegar

50ml Lao Gan Ma (or 'Godmother' ) chilli oil* 

1 tsp sesame oil

*Available in Asian grocers.


To prepare the spiced salt, dry roast the and spices over low heat until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder. Combine the ground spices with the sea salt and set aside.

To prepare the turkey, remove the legs and thighs (marylands) and leave the breasts attached to the crown. Place the turkey legs in a shallow dish. Coat generously with two-thirds of the spiced salt. Rub the remaining spiced salt over the turkey breast skin. Cover both and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 120°C. Remove the legs  from the fridge and gently rinse off the salt cure. Pat dry and place in an ovenproof dish or saucepan that fits the two legs. Gently warm the duck fat and then pour over the turkey legs until they  are completely submerged. Place the legs in the oven and cook for three to 3½ hours or until the leg meat is falling from the bone. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the legs from the duck fat and set aside.

While the legs are cooling, cook the turkey crown. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Brush the cure from the crown, pat dry and pour over the sesame oil. Place on a wire rack over an oven tray and place in the centre of the oven. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the turkey breast registers 70°C on a thermometer.

When the crown is ready, remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest to room temperature. While the turkey crown is resting, shred the meat from the turkey legs and set aside. Remove the breasts from the crown and carve the breast meat into slices 2.5 centimetres thick.  Brush the carved turkey breast with a little of the strange flavour dressing.

For the dressing, simply mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl or jug and set aside.

For the salad, peel the cucumbers, de-seed and cut into batons five millimetres  thick and 10 centimetres long. Toss the cucumber batons with the sea salt and set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rinse off the salt and pat dry. Combine the cucumber and the remaining salad ingredients with the turkey leg meat, pour over the dressing and gently toss the salad.

Lay the carved turkey breast on a platter, arrange the salad on top and serve.