In recent years, I’ve made a bit of a habit to snoop around the (sometimes a little odd) national and international “holidays” at the beginning of every month. If you take a closer look at the “Days of…” happening all around the world every day, apart from the really big ones declared by the UN, you may find out about some nation/organisation celebrating something silly on a day you really need something to smile about, sometimes it’s an international celebration of something interesting you’ve known nothing about until you’re made aware of it that way.
Sometimes these “Day of…” may even spark an idea to do or create something, whether you use that particular day to act upon the inspiration or not. For example, January 11th was “Learn your name in morse code day” in the US. Slightly silly, but what the hay, I actually looked at a morse code table for the first time in my life during a free minute when I found out. The mostly UK and Central Europe-based “Apple Day” on October 21st makes me smile every year and take my daily “an apple a day…” routine to a whole new level with a special apple dish, and I always head out to visit the little colony of Humboldt penguins kept in our city park on World Penguin Day on April 25th. Tomorrow, as I’ve found out a week ago, the “World Hot and Spicy Food Day” celebrations are going down all across the globe, so I decided to contribute to those particularly yumtastic festivities with today’s recipe. Happy Hot and Spicy Food Day everyone~!
These amounts will net you 2 sizzlingly hot and deliciously spicy servings:
The Five-Spice Coated Duck
1 large Duck Breast, about 400-500g
3-4 Tsp of Five Spice Powder – rub the meaty side of the duck breast until it’s evenly colored in and keep rest for later
1 Tsp of Fine Sea Salt
8 Soft Dried Plums, halved
1 Clove of Garlic, bashed
1 Star Anise
100ml Duck- or Chicken Stock
100ml Plum Wine
1) Have a close look at the duck breast and liberate it of any excess bit of fat you might find.
2) Pick up a very sharp knife and score the skin all the way down to – but not in to – the meat in a diamond shaped pattern, the cuts about 1 cm apart.
3) Sprinkle the salt onto the skin and rub it into the cuts.
4) Place the duck in a heavy-based, cold pan and set it onto medium-high heat.
5) Pop on the lid and wait until the distinct sizzle of a duck breast crisping up in its own fat starts getting louder.
6) Give it about 3 mins at that volume, then have a peek.
7) Once the skin has developed a golden-brown crisp, give it about 2 more mins with the lid on, then turn it onto its unprotected side.
8) In case you’re faced with a lot of duck fat in your pan, ladle out some of it – discard the excess or save it up in a small jar for fried potatoes or some such – until you’re left with around 1-1 ½ Tbsp of it. This will be the base for your dressing.
9) Deglaze the pan with the stock and wine, add the star anise, bashed garlic, dried plums and the spice powder.
10) Swirl the contents of your pan to distribute the spices and close the lid again. Leave it to simmer for 5 more minutes.
11) Take out the duck, place it on a warm plate and cover it with aluminum foil.
12) Leave the sauce bubble away to reduce down to 1/3 or ¼ of the original amount, then turn off the heat.
The Maple Syrup & Mustard Dressing
1 Tbsp Mild Mustard
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1) Add the mustard, maple syrup and vinegar to a small bowl and whisk the lot until everything is well combined.
2) Use a wooden spoon to stir this mixture into the warm liquids in your frying pan.
100g Mixed Lettuce Leaves
4 Fresh Plums, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
The Five Spice Duck, thinly sliced
The Maple Syrup & Mustard Dressing
1) Divide the lettuce leaves onto 2 plates.
2) In case the plums aren’t perfectly ripe, pop them into the still-hot pan with the dressing and allow them to soften up a bit.
3) If they’re juicy and tender already, simply distribute the wedges onto the piles of leaves.
4) Once the plums are taken care of, slice up the duck and top off the servings with even amounts of duck slices.
5) Drizzle the piles with the dressing and get your forks ready.