Deep-fried duck with plum and orange sauce recipe

Aussie-Chinese: Deep-fried duck with quandong, Davidson's plum and orange sauce.
Aussie-Chinese: Deep-fried duck with quandong, Davidson's plum and orange sauce. Photo: William Meppem

If you can't find Davidson's plums, make the citrus sauce with European plums and orange. The same method can be adapted to orange, or plum and mandarin or just mandarin. And if you can't find quandongs, leave them out.


1 × 1.5kg free-range duck

2 tbsp Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe)

¼ cup (35g) plain flour

safflower or sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Citrus sauce

1 cup (250ml) water

1 cup (220g) brown sugar

⅓ cup (80ml) fish sauce

6 whole star anise

2 cinnamon quills

juice of 3 limes

1 orange, peeled and sliced crossways

50g native quandongs, deseeded and halved*

60g native Davidson's plums, deseeded and halved

2 tbsp Davidson's plum sauce* (or Chinese plum sauce)


1. Rinse duck under cold water. Trim away excess fat from inside and outside the cavity, and trim off neck, parson's nose and winglets. Pat dry and rub the skin all over with Sichuan pepper and salt. Cover duck and place in refrigerator to marinate overnight.

2. Transfer duck to a large steamer basket. Place basket over a deep saucepan of boiling water and steam, covered securely, for about 1¼ hours, or until the duck is cooked through (to test, insert a small knife between leg and breast – the juices should run clear). Using tongs, gently remove duck from the steamer and place on a tray, breast-side up, to drain. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to refrigerator to cool further.

3. Meanwhile, make the citrus sauce. Combine water and sugar in a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add fish sauce and spices and simmer for a further minute. Remove pan from stove.

4. Place cooled duck breast-side up on a chopping board and, using a large knife or meat cleaver, cut duck in half lengthways through breastbone and backbone. Carefully ease meat away from carcass, leaving thighs, legs and wings intact. Because the duck has been cooked through completely, the meat should come away from the bones very easily. Lightly toss duck halves in flour to coat, shaking off any excess.

5. Heat oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Deep-fry duck halves one at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, or until well-browned and crisp. Using tongs, carefully remove duck from oil and drain well on paper towel, then leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes. Reheat the citrus sauce to boiling, add in the lime juice, orange, quandongs, Davidson's plums and plum sauce, return sauce to medium heat then remove from stove.

Finally, with a sharp knife, cut the duck into pieces and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon over hot citrus sauce and serve immediately.

Serve alongside my crab and ginger dumplings and good luck salad as part of a banquet. Here's how my family celebrates Lunar New Year.

*Frozen quandongs and Davidson's plums are available from Outback Pride Fresh and other specialist suppliers.