- 2 duck breasts
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder, store bought or homemade
- 1 tsp brown sugar, dark or light
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ginger powder (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, see note)
- 3–4 drops red food colouring (optional, see note)
- 1 tsp water
- A pinch of salt
Ginger powder will make the rub much easier to apply as fresh ginger will make the rub moist and harder to distribute.
The food colouring is just to recreate the classic look of Chinese roast duck with red skin. It is completely optional
Duck Gravy (this makes enough for 4 breasts)
- ½ tsp white peppercorns (use only 1/4 tsp if serving kids)
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¾ inch piece ginger, chopped
- 5 cilantro sprigs, stems finely chopped, leaves picked
- 2 Tbsp taojiew (Thai fermented soybean paste)
- 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 ½ tsp black soy sauce or dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp five spice powder
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ¾ cup unsalted chicken stock or water
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp white sesame seeds, crushed
Note: Serve with some rice or egg noodles. I also like to serve with some fresh cucumber to help cut the richness of this dish.
Prep the Duck:
- Remove the tender and silver skin from duck breasts as much as you can. (Save the tender for snacking, do not throw it!)
- Trim off excess skin/fat around the edges of the breasts.
- Score the duck skin shallowly on a diagonal about 1 cm apart, making sure not to cut through to the meat.
- Make the dry rub by combining five-spice powder, brown sugar, salt and ginger powder.
- Sprinkle the rub evenly onto the meat part of the duck only; try not to let the rub touch the skin. Use any leftover rub on the tenders. Flip the rubbed duck meat side down on a plate and pat the skin dry.
- Combine the food colouring with the water and a pinch of salt and brush this onto the duck skin.
- Let the duck marinade for at least 45 minutes, uncovered to let the skin dry. If you’re marinating for less than 2 hours, you can leave the duck at room temp and put a fan to it to help it dry out. If marinating for longer than 2 hours, put the duck in the fridge uncovered, for up to one day.
- Meanwhile make the gravy.
- Pound peppercorns until fine in a mortar and pestle.
- Add garlic, ginger, cilantro stems and pound into a fine paste.
- Add taojiew and five spice powder and mash everything together.
- In a small pot, add a little bit of oil and the herb paste and saute on low heat for about 2 minutes until aromatic and thickened.
- Deglaze with chicken stock, then add all remaining ingredients, whisking to break up the herb paste.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more dark/black soy sauce as needed to adjust the colour.
- Stir in sesame seeds, and when you’re ready to serve stir in cilantro leaves.
To Roast the Duck
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205 °C).
- Dry the breasts on paper towel, trying your best not to let any of the juices or the marinade touch the skin.
- Heat a flat skillet over medium heat just briefly (don’t let it get too hot), then add the duck skin-side down. Let the duck fat from the skin render slowly over medium heat. As duck fat collects in the pan, you can pour this off into a bowl and save it for cooking if you wish.
- Sear duck for about 5-6 minutes or until the skin has browned slightly and much of the fat has rendered off. (Tip: I used a non-stick pan, but if using a stainless steel pan, the skin might feel like it’s sticking in the beginning. Don’t worry, it should release after the skin is browned, with a bit of help from a spatula.
- Transfer the duck, skin-side up, onto a rack set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast the duck until desired doneness; I roast them for 12-15 mins for medium doneness (135°F internal temp). Timing will depend on the size of the breast, so it’s a good idea to have a meat thermometer handy. This is my favourite meat thermometer.
- Let the duck rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly for serving, then pour the gravy over the duck and serve with jasmine rice or egg noodles. Enjoy!