Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Asian Roast Duck (made with a kick-arse Masterstock)

I will say upfront that I "borrowed" (and modified, slightly) Red Spice Road's wonderful recipe for roast duck (page 117, "The Red Spice Road Cookbook - an experience in Cooking South-East Asian Food", by John McLeay). Therefore, I feel justified in blogging about it and sharing the recipe with my readers. Also, I've previously raved about RSR's amazing menu and bar so, free advertising can't be a bad thing.

To prepare any self respecting asian duck dish you'll first need a good masterstock, to simmer the duck in. The key to a getting it right is achieving the right balance of flavours: sweet/salty, a touch of acid, rich, and with complex undertones - citrus? caramel? aniseed? It's not exactly rocket science but remember that once it's simmered down from the original mixture you'll end up with something earthier and more intense.

Once your masterstock is simmered and flavoured to perfection (and strained), bring it to the boil in a big pot and place a whole duck inside; simmer for 15 minutes. You might need to "weight" it to ensure the whole bird remains immersed - I used a large pot and put the steamer basket over the top, then shut the heavy glass lid and it worked fine. If using smaller portions of duck (or chicken), simmer for only 5 minutes or so. Place on a rack in a baking dish and bake in a 200C oven for 50 minutes. Alternatively, RSR's suggestion is to cut large chunks of carrot and place in the bottom of the baking dish, the benefit being that you get lovely roasted sweet carrot as a side dish at the end.

Masterstock (a variation on Red Spice Road's recipe):

- 3 litres of water
- 500ml white wine
- 100ml rice wine vinegar (this and the white wine was my substitute for "shao xhing" wine)
- 100ml light soy sauce
- 100ml Ketjap Manis (sweet soy)
- 250g dark brown (muscovado) sugar
- 5 cloves roughly chopped garlic
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- 6 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- peel from one large fresh orange

Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer for half an hour. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed (salt/pepper/sugar). Cool, then strain. Can be frozen for later use, and re-used again and again, as long as it's strained after each use.

This duck is wonderful served with plain rice - I made coconut rice which soaked up the juices nicely. Accompany with some chilli oil for heaven on a plate.

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