I recently gave my friend Vince a bottle of 2004 St Maur Pinot Noir from the cool climate Bowral wine region for his birthday. I tasted this wine at the cellar door and thought it was rather elegant with smooth plummy aromas. I hinted to him this wine would complement the gamey flavours of a Asian-style roast duck in the hope we might score a dinner invite in return .
You see, I’m a big believer that nothing is free in this world but at the same time, a gift should also be unconditional and it would be wrong to expect something in return. But among good friends, well, that’s another story …
A few days later, we unexpectedly got a dinner invite from Vince and June (). We were excited and chanced if duck was going to be on the menu.
Soon after we arrived, we had pre-dinner drinks and watched June in the kitchen preparing a couple of beautiful steamed entrees for starters.
The first entree was steamed oysters in 2 different styles – a ginger and shao xing wine reduction and the more conventional ginger shallots with soy and oyster sauce. The oysters were wonderfully fresh as Vince got them from the Sydney Fish Markets that same morning. June was meticulous to ensure a quick steaming process to infuse the flavours of the ginger and wine into the fresh oysters.
The oysters were followed by a second entree of steamed baby abalone with coriander and chilli. The abalone was succulent and the flavours enhanced by a fresh chill and lemon soy dipping sauce. Both entrees were complemented with the grassy and honey suckle flavours of a 2009 Bethany semillon from the Barossa.
A fresh salad of cherry tomatoes, orange and rocket leaves was delightful and we eagerly waited for the mystery main course. You see, good friends can sometimes read each others’ minds and soon as Vince opened the bottle of St Maur Pinot Noir, we really thought the main would be duck. To our amazement, June brought out beautiful pieces of duck breasts which have been gently marinating in the fridge for some time.
Over a few more drinks, we got to watch June pan sear the duck and get a whiff of the wonderful aromas. When it eventually came out of the oven, the skin was crisp and golden brown while the meat looked decidedly succulent and juicy.
So readers, if you want your friends to cook you this beautiful duck, get them a bottle of good pinot noir and tell them the wine would go well with a Chinese twice-cooked roast duck with orange.
Being the wonderful hostess that she is, June was more than happy to share her duck recipe with us.
4 pieces of duck breasts
3 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 tablespoon of honey
4 tablespoon Shao Xing wine
1 knob of ginger
1 bunch shallots
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoon salt to taste
1. Finely scrap the orange skin with rinder, cut oranges into wedge segments and retain juices in a bowl.
2. Roughly cut shallots and slice ginger into fine julienne.
3. Marinate the duck breasts with the EVOO, honey, oyster sauce, freshly cracked black pepper, julienne ginger and orange rind for approximately 2 – 3 hours.
4. Heat one tablespoon of cooking oil in frying pan until smoking.
5. Pan sear duck breasts skin side down on high heat, adding the fresh orange juice and Shao Xing wine, gently moving the meat until the skin is golden brown (Tip: Use small amount of cooking oil as duck fat will render from the skin while searing).
6. Turn duck breasts to skin side up and add the sliced shallots to the pan.
7. Place pan in pre-heated oven at 200 C for approximately 15 minutes (for medium rare depending on size and thickness of duck breast).
8. Remove duck breasts from oven to rest for 5 minutes, skim off excess fat from pan and retain roasting juices in a small gravy bowl.
9. Serve duck with a drizzle of the gravy and a side of your favourite salad.
The duck was the standout of the evening which was topped off with a cheese plate of soft brie, red grapes, mandarin and crackers.
So readers, what would you like your friends to cook for you?
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