Whenever there’s a lot going on around us, the first thing usually being intentionally skipped or unintentionally pushed around up and down the timeline is lunch. Sure, it’s not the most important meal and most certainly not the heaviest in the thought-and-effort-department, but as time goes by and dinner-time starts to feel days away, keeping focus and motivation up at work is… well, seriously hard work.
Many people I know grab the next best thing in those situations just to make their stomach shut up, which usually ends in exactly the wrong type of lunch that, in effect, nets the same or worse results as no lunch at all. That’s why, years back, I started prepping lunchboxes for Hubby and me, keeping the whole “Brainfood” idea alive and getting us though even the most hectic days well nourished and fit – both mentally and physically.
Todays recipe is one of those lunchbox recipes turned dinner – with the lunchy-light chicken ditched for the delicious sakes of a duck breast crispy enough to scare the lukewarm soggy ick out of February (hopefully…)~! These amounts will net you 2-3 generous servings (or 4 lunchboxes~)
The Soba Zoodle Salad
200g (Buckwheat) Soba Noodles
200g Zucchini, spirallized or finely julienned
100g Sugar Snap Peas, ends snipped off and sliced into halves
2 Spring Onions, finely chopped
1 Carrot, Zoodled/Julienned and lightly blanched
Opt: 1 Stick of Celery, very finely sliced
Opt: 1 small Red Bell Pepper, finely sliced
1 Bunch of Green Asparagus, woody bits removed
3cm Fresh Ginger, very finely chopped
1 Small Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
4-5 Drops of Roasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Yuzu Vinegar – this stuff is exceptionally hard to get over here, even in the most well-sorted Asian Food Stores and pretty pricey, so you could also just go with…
Alt: White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce or Ponzu Sauce
2 Limes, Zest of one and Juice of both
1 Tsp Roasted Sesame Seeds
1 Tsp Togarashi Pepper Blend
Just on a side-note, you’ll need the blood orange juice leftover from filleting them as listed below in the “The Toppings” section, so take care of those first and chill the fillets as you make your way through the rest of the recipe starting with…
1) Prepare the soba noodles according to the package instructions, then rinse and chill them.
2) Blanch the spirallized zucchini and carrot in lightly boiling water for 2 mins, transfer them out of the water (keep that going for the moment) into a colander and generously sprinkle them with salt.
3) Allow them to cool off enough for you to not burn your hands when you pick them up and give them a good squeeze to expel excess salt water.
4) While the zoodles are sitting in their colander, blanch the peas in the water still simmering away in the pot.
5) Meanwhile place the remaining ingredients and the blood orange juice mentioned above in a mixing bowl and give the lot a good whisk to combine them.
6) Once the veggies and noodles are taken care of, fold them into the dressing, have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
7) Cover the bowl and keep it chilled until the duck is ready to crown piles of this salad.
350-400g Duck Breast
3 Tbsp Plum Wine
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1-2 Tsp Tamarind Paste
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 Generous Pinch of Szechuan Pepper and 5 spice
1) As usual, start the process by scoring the skin of the duck in a diamond-shape pattern, each cut down to but not into the meat, 1cm apart from eachother.
2) Generously rub the skin with salt and place it it a cold pan, skinside down.
3) Turn the heat to medium-high and as soon as the duck is sitting in a halo of its own fat, pop on the lid and leave the pan to do the works for 7 mins.
4) Meanwhile, whisk the paste, wine, hoisin and sriracha sauce and the spices together in a small bowl.
5) Turn the duck over to the meat side once you’re satisfied with the crisp of the crackle (7 mins usually do the trick, but have a look/adjust of heat if necessary anyways) and pop the lid on for 3 more mins.
6) Spoon-brush the meat with the marinade while turning it over from side to side.
7) Once it’s evenly coated, transfer the duck breast and everything left inside in the pan onto a warmed plate and tuck it in under a sheet of tinfoil.
8) Allow it to rest for 5 mins while taking care of the remaining toppings.
The Toppings & Assembling the Dish
150g Edamame Beans – you can get these ready-shelled in the frozen goods section of any Asian Food Store nearby
2 Blood Oranges, peeled and filleted
3-4 Leafy Sprigs of Thai Basil, leaves picked and finely sliced
1 small Bunch of Coriander, leaves picked and finely chopped
Roasted Nori Strips (check the snacks section of your asian food store) or ½ Sheet of Nori, cut into fine strips to taste/decorate
1) Divvy up the salad onto serving plates or lunchboxes – make sure to distribute the remaining dressing as well.
2) Dot the servings with the beans, blood orange fillets and herbs.
3) Slice up the duck breast and, making sure to scoop up the combined goodness of the juices and sauce left behind in its resting place as you go, crown your servings with the slices.
4) A couple of fried nori strips on top and you’re good to go! Grab a fork or a pair of chopsticks and…