With minimal effort, you can put together a salad with crunch, color and bit of Asian spice.
We used fresh duck breasts, available at Whole Foods that come in vacuum packages weighing 1 to 1 1/4 pounds; they render more fat than the packaged, frozen/defrosted duck breasts. Strain and reserve the fat for another use.
If you find the taste of raw shallots too assertive, cut them into thin slices and soak them in ice water or unseasoned rice vinegar for 5 minutes.
Serve with garlic breadsticks.
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh duck breasts (see headnote)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sunflower or safflower oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- Pinch sea or kosher salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 or 3 limes
- 1-inch piece ginger root
- 1 small (5 to 6 ounces) cucumber
- 2 shallots (2 to 2 1/2 ounces total)
- 2 Thai bird's-eye chili peppers
- 1 small (5 ounces) Granny Smith apple (may substitute green mango)
- 4 Campari (small) tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
- 3 to 4 cups prepared cabbage/coleslaw mix (may substitute mixed salad greens)
Use a sharp knife to score the skin side of the duck breasts on the diagonal one way, then in the other direction to form a crosshatch pattern.
Rub the oils, the five-spice powder and the salt and pepper all over the duck breasts. Place them skin side down in a wok, then place the wok over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, so the skin becomes crisped and golden and fat is rendered; if necessary, increase the heat to medium after the first 8 minutes to ensure crisped skin. Turn the duck breasts over and increase the heat to medium (if you haven't already done so). Cook for 3 to 5 minutes (for medium-rare). Transfer to a cutting board so the duck breasts can rest for at least 5 minutes.
While the duck is cooking and resting, cut the limes and squeeze their juice into a large mixing bowl to yield 2 1/2 tablespoons. As you work, add the ingredients to the bowl: Peel, then finely grate the ginger. Cut the cucumber and shallots crosswise into very thin slices. Stem and seed the bird's-eye peppers, then cut them crosswise into very thin slices. Core the apple, then cut into thin slices or matchsticks. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.
Add the soy sauce, cashews and slaw mix; toss to incorporate and coat evenly. Arrange on a serving platter.
Cut the duck on a slight diagonal into thin slices, placing them on the salad. Drizzle with any accumulated juices from the duck. Serve warm.
Adapted from "365 Ways to Cook," edited by Eleanor Maxfield (Firefly, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.