Crispy confit duck salad
This dish began with how much I love Chinese black vinegar. I was eating dumplings and wondered what else I could do with these flavours. I decided to make a salad based around duck and persimmons.
Confit duck is traditionally big and rich and in French cuisine usually requires fruit to cut through. To bring the flavours back to the Asian vinegar I initially thought of tamarillos. Blood plums would be great as well. Even cucumber would work.
I love that the duck has not been cooked with cinnamon or star anise or orange or anything like that. The flavours are totally clean and the vinegar dressing is really able to bring the punch and complexity. The hoisin adds a lovely viscosity and background sweetness.
The rice paper sheets add crisp texture. They puff up almost instantly when you fry them, like prawn crackers.
You could have this as a little starter before something like dumplings – or even torn up and served in a milk bao with a garnish, or cucumber and coriander and more of the dressing for dipping. You could easily double the dressing and keep some in the fridge. It works beautifully with steamed fish or with vegetables such as snow peas. You could also spoon it over a crab omelette if you wanted to get really fancy.
It’s easy enough to buy confit duck at a specialty food store. If you want to do it yourself, the basic technique is to sprinkle rock salt over the duck legs and leave them for two hours at room temperature. Wipe off the salt with a damp cloth and pack the duck into a snug dish. Then submerge it in warmed duck fat and olive oil, alongside smashed garlic, thyme and juniper berries. Cook this for two hours, covered, at 110ºC. Leave undisturbed to cool, allowing the fat to congeal. There you go.
Serves 4 as a starter
Time: 30 minutes preparation + 20 minutes cooking
- 10ml sesame oil
- 20ml grapeseed oil
- 3 red bird’s eye chillies
- 10cm knob of ginger, sliced
- 100ml black vinegar
- 60g white sugar
- 40ml light soy sauce
- 60ml hoisin sauce
- 150ml chicken stock
- 2 confit duck legs
- 2 stems of curry leaves
- 2 big persimmons, sliced thinly, skin on
- 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced finely
- 8 perilla leaves
- 1 purple shallot, sliced finely
- 3 sheets rice paper
- 50ml olive oil
- 50ml rice wine vinegar
- 100ml grapeseed oil for frying
- pinch of salt
- pinch of white sugar
- Roughly pound chilli and ginger in a mortar and pestle.
- Fry chilli and ginger in sesame oil in a pot until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and cool.
- Preheat your oven to 230ºC.
- Place duck legs on a tray lined with baking paper, add curry leaves and crisp in the oven for about 20 minutes.
- Layer sliced persimmon on a platter.
- Rub the finely sliced shallot with salt and sugar to cut its astringency. Place over persimmon. Splash with vinegar and olive oil.
- Tuck the perilla leaves in among the persimmon.
- Add the finely sliced chilli to the cooled black vinegar dressing.
- Break the rice paper sheets in half. Flash fry in a shallow fry pan of grapeseed oil, one at a time, and set aside.
- Remove duck from the oven and place onto the persimmon, with the odd curry leaf.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and duck and top with the rice paper wafer.
- To serve, lightly shred the duck and serve with the wafer and salad.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 26, 2023 as "Confit zone".
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