In our family, duck dishes are usually only offered on special occasions and in my restaurant, the signature dish of almost 17 years has been our deep-fried duck with orange and plum. Many may feel intimidated by cooking a whole duck, so this recipe, using duck breasts, works really well for everyday use. Excellent quality, locally produced duck is available from many farmers' markets. In this recipe, you simply steam the duck breasts then deep-fry for texture.
4 x 200g duck breasts, with skin, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp plain flour
2½ tbsp spicy-salt mix ( see below)
vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 large red chilli, finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tbsp spring onion, julienne
handful of coriander sprigs
2 lemons, halved
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp salt flakes
Makes 2½ tablespoons
1. For spicy salt, combine all ingredients in a heavy-based frying pan and dry-roast over medium heat, tossing occasionally. When the peppercorns begin to pop and become aromatic, about 1-2 minutes, take off the heat.
2. Arrange duck breasts, skin-side up, on a heatproof plate that will fit inside a steamer basket. Place plate inside steamer, position over a deep saucepan or wok of boiling water and steam, covered for 12 minutes or until duck breasts are half cooked.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour with spicy salt. Carefully remove plate from steamer basket, transfer duck breasts to a rack and set aside for 25 minutes to cool slightly.
4. Add duck breasts to spicy-salt mixture and toss to coat well, shaking off any excess flour. Heat oil in a large hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add duck breasts and deep fry for about two minutes or until just cooked through and lightly browned then remove and drain well on kitchen paper.
5. Cut duck on the diagonal into 1cm slices and arrange on a platter. Garnish with chilli, spring onion, coriander and serve immediately with lemon halves.
6. Allow to cool, then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Be sure to cool the duck for the 25 minutes specified in the recipe, so the meat can rest well ensuring juiciness and tenderness.
Store any leftover spicy salt in an airtight container
Use this recipe as a base and swap the spicy salt for your preferred sauce – eg, sweet and sour, or a sweet, syrupy citrus sauce with orange, mandarin or tangelo. Sweet-chilli would be a great dipping sauce.