Sichuan Pepper Spiced Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

Sichuan Pepper Spiced Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

Sichuan Pepper Spiced Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

This may start to sound familiar, but as a kid I didn’t fully appreciate some of the foods my mom (sometimes painstakingly) procured for us. For example, I refused to eat veal freshly obtained from some of our neighbors…I mean veal!!! If only my older self could tell the silly kid how expensive and difficult would be to get such great veal meat as an adult far away from my grandma’s village. I did eat duck if I knew it wasn’t Donald (for some reason most of our male ducks were named Donald), but not goose. However, we didn’t have duck that often. Sadly, despite my mom’s efforts it was very hard to achieve a good number of ducks. She would always get a couple in the spring, the female would lay eggs, part of the eggs would hatch, but by fall for one reason or another, most of them would either get injured or die…or maybe we ate them all while I wasn’t aware…probably a question I don’t want the answer to!

However, raising ducks may still prove easier than trying to find duck breast in my area! Conor’s post from his oriental series reminded me of how I’ve been meaning to cook duck for a while now, but I didn’t put too much effort into it at first. It wasn’t until we went fruit picking and got some really tasty plums that I put duck breast on my shopping list…and there it stayed for quite some time! I didn’t think finding duck breast would be so hard since stores tend to stock up before the holidays on a lot of different meats. I was getting ready to give up and get a whole duck (which I may still do at some point), when my resourceful husband suggested Gelson’s, where I picked up one the two frozen duck breast packages that were hidden in between frozen chicken nuggets bags! Many years ago in college, one of my friends was very excited to make some frozen strawberry margaritas and she purchased these overpriced strawberries from there for it. From that moment on, I remembered Gelson’s as the supermarket with expensive strawberries that taste like the cheaper variants, and ironically, when I stopped in their strawberries were $7!!! Needless to say, I won’t buy strawberries from there, but will go back for more duck breast 🙂

Recipe notes: for the duck breast, I followed the directions from one of Gordon Ramsay’s F word episode, but Conor’s method is probably a little faster. For the sauce, I followed Conor’s directions, but because I wanted to give it a little kick (and like to use Sambal Oelek in everything Asian!) I added an extra step at the end and use it in a pan sauce. I kept the extra as jam, and it is delicious!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 Tb Sichuan pepper, roasted and ground
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 – 7 plums
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced (I used my microplane zester)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tb wine, sherry or vermouth
  • 1/2 – 1 Tb sambal oelek chili garlic sauce, or Sriracha
  • rice or other side dish

Start by making the plum sauce. Quarter the plums, remove the seeds, and place in a saucepan. Add sugar, ginger, and some water. Cook on medium-low heat until it has a jam consistency (30-45 min).

plumsauce in the making

plum sauce in the making

Feel free to add more water if it looks like it may start burning before the plums have gotten soft enough to release enough juices. When sauce is almost ready, taste for sugar and add more if necessary.

plum sauce done!

1st step of the plum sauce done!

Meanwhile, prepare your duck breast, start some rice, etc. Preheat oven to 400F. Pat dry the breasts and score the skin in a criss-cross pattern  without cutting through the meat.

duck breasts - skin scored

duck breasts – skin scored

Place them on a clean paper towel and rub generously with the Sichuan pepper, salt and pepper. I love the smell of Sichuan pepper. Am I weird? 🙂

spice rubbed duck breasts

spice rubbed duck breasts

Place the breasts in a dry cast-iron skillet (or other ovenproof pan) over low heat and cook until most of the fat has been rendered (~15 min). Be patient!

duck fat starting to render

duck fat starting to render

When most of the fat has been rendered, removed most of it from the pan. Increase the heat, and then sear the duck breasts on the meat side for about 1 minute.

duck getting seared on the flesh side

duck getting seared on the flesh side

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 5 – 10 minutes (mine took 5, but Ramsay suggested 8-10 min) or until the temperature raised to ~ 130F for medium rare.

cooked duck breast!

cooked duck breast!

Remove from pan and let rest for a few minutes. Now you can finish the plum sauce.

Drain some of the fat from the pan and place on a medium heat burner. Deglaze the pan with some wine, add some plum sauce (1/2 – 1 cup, I forgot I am a food blogger and didn’t carefully measure it…I just spooned some in the pan until I thought it was enough for the two of us), chili garlic sauce, and cook until homogenous and warmed through.

Slice the duck breast, spoon sauce on top, and serve with your favorite sides, and a nice glass of wine (optional :)). We had rice and stir-fried veggies.

Sichuan pepper spiced duck breast with plum sauce

Sichuan pepper spiced duck breast with plum sauce

This was a delicious meal and the homemade plum sauce was totally worth the effort (thanks Conor for the inspiration :-)!). This sauce will probably go well with chicken, pork, or even tofu if duck breasts are as scarce in your area as well.

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7 Responses to Sichuan Pepper Spiced Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

  1. I remember one particular traumatising moment related to how one of mom’s ducks did not survive. It’ll haunt me for the rest of my life. The food looks yummy, I just had veggie peppered stake 😀

  2. chef mimi says:

    Fabulous! The duck looks perfect!

  3. Oh wow this looks sooo good! Love the plum sauce spiked with sambal. This is right up my alley 🙂 I wonder if I can procure duck breasts locally? I am definitely going to try because you make this look so simple. YUM! I’m glad I don’t have to be personally aquainted with the duck I will eat in the future…… that was always tricky, growing up with lambs, chickens or cattle. But a good connection to learn as a child where food really comes from. Bravo on this recipe girl!

    • I hope you can find some duck breasts, and this should be the right time to search for them since the supermarkets tend to bring in more meaty items for the holidays. We found pheasants one year! Yes, it is sad to see the pets go 😦 I envy my innocence as a young kid when I couldn’t make a connection between dinner and my animal friends. It helps to have similar color animals, but I always insisted we kept the colorful rooster to my grandfather’s frustration as it was usually smaller in size and not as ‘manly’ as he wanted. It does make for some fun memories, and I am convinced they tasted better due to all the love we gave them.

      • I think you’re right about that! Home-raised livestock is an amazing gift and very humbling on the plate. We tried to never call them “pets” or give them names but that was difficult.

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