It’s always a treat to have duck, and fortunately it’s becoming more easily available and indeed more affordable recently. So I’m always looking for new ways to cook it, and this is a little Chinese-influenced recipe that I came up with. The duck should be tender and pink on the inside, but crispy and delicious on the outside. The gingery noodles complement the duck beautifully.
A skillet is the perfect pan to cook the duck in, as you start if off on the gas, then transfer it to the oven to finish off. If you don’t have a skillet, an oven-proof frying pan or griddle pan is a good second best.
Ideally, try to plan ahead and marinate the duck overnight, but if that’s not possible, just give it as long as you have.
For the marinade:
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
For the noodles:
- 200g of good wheat flour or egg noodles, ideally the real thing from a Chinese grocer
- a slug of groundnut oil
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated or very finely chopped
- two large Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, stems removed and then sliced
- a splash of light soy sauce
- 200g of fresh spinach, washed and drained
- a splash of toasted sesame oil
The Chinese mushrooms are great, but are completely optional if you can’t get them. Another option is to substitute in some fresh shitake or oyster mushrooms.
And of course, you will need:
- 2 boneless duck breasts, skin on
- 1 finely-sliced spring onion, to garnish
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 2
For the duck:
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and transfer to a medium-sized freezer bag. Add the duck breasts, ensuring that they’re covered in the marinade, seal tightly, and place in the fridge, ideally overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, remove the duck from the marinade and pat it dry. Place it skin-side down in a cold skillet. This is crucial, as adding it to a hot pan will sear it and seal in the fat, whereas we want to render off some of the fat, giving us crispier duck breasts. Fire up the gas and bring the pan to a gentle sizzle. Spoon off any excess fat from the pan as it collects.
After about 10 minutes or so, wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and flip the duck over so it is skin-side up. Transfer to a hot oven, 200°C+, for no more than 10 minutes, to ensure it remains quite rare inside.
For the noodles:
Now get your noodles up to a rolling boil, and cook until they’re lovely and al dente.
While the noodles are cooking, heat up a good slug of groundnut oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger and fry gently for a moment or two. Add the mushrooms and season with a splash of light soy sauce. Fold in the spinach and let it wilt down until it is cooked. Drizzle it with a splash of sesame oil, and the spinach will absorb the delicious, nutty flavour.
Drain the cooked noodles and, making sure that the heat in the wok is fairly low now, add them to the spinach and its oil. Stir thoroughly so the flavours of the garlic and ginger can coat the noodles. Transfer to large, warmed serving bowls.
Finally, remove the duck breasts from the oven and let them stand for a moment or two. They should be lovely and crispy by now. Slice the duck breasts thinly, then lay the slices over the noodles. Garnish with the chopped spring onions, and serve.