Hi there! I haven’t posted for awhile since I’ve been finishing up a course in American Politics at my local university. (You could definitely call me a ‘perpetual student’ since I have been attending university courses off and on since 1967)!
To celebrate the end of my classes, I decided to make ‘Duck Breast with Plum and Tamarind Sauce.’ A tamarind tree bears tropical fruit grown in bean-like pods and is frequently used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. It also has certain reported medicinal benefits, like lowering blood sugar and preventing heart disease. I like cooking with tamarind because it has a nice sweet and sour taste and you can build further flavors around it using cinnamon and star anise, etc.
To make this dish, I used tamarind paste, which you can buy in Asian supermarkets. It only takes about 15 minutes to make the sauce and a further 12-15 minutes to cook the duck breast.
This dish is similar to my recipe for Duck à l’orange, except with an Asian rather than a French twist!
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup + 2 tbsps. water
- 2 plums, peeled and de-seeded (fresh or canned plums are OK to use)
- 1 tsp tamarind sauce
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Duck Breasts, uncooked
- Over medium heat, whisk the sugar and red wine vinegar together for several minutes until the sugar dissolves and the liquid turns a dark brown color; add the water to the mixture. Peel and de-seed the plums and slice into 3-4 pieces. Add these to the cooking liquid along with the star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and fish sauce. Simmer for at least 10 minutes until the plums soften and the flavors blend together. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve; taste and adjust seasoning accordingly (if the sauce is too tart, add a little more sugar).
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the duck breasts, using a criss-cross pattern. Season both sides of the duck with salt and pepper. Place a fry pan on stove top over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Beginning with the skin side, cook each side of the duck breast for 3-4 minutes; the flesh side should be a golden brown color. Wrap each duck breast in foil and cook in the oven for a further 4-5 minutes. The duck will be ready when the meat is a light pink color. If the meat is still red inside, then cook for another few minutes. Remove from oven and let the duck rest for at least 10 minutes in the foil (the meat will continue to cook a little when it rests).
- Slice the duck breast in long horizontal pieces. To serve, re-heat the sauce, spoon the sauce onto a plate or shallow bowl, then arrange the duck pieces on top of the sauce. To decorate, try adding a star anise piece to the plate or a piece of basil or parsley.
- Tip: Before wrapping the duck breasts in foil and placing them in the oven, I make a small incision with a paring knife into the flesh side of the duck breast. This makes it easier to check if the duck is pink inside and therefore ready to be removed from the oven.