An Asian leaf salad would work well with this dish. You’ll need to begin this recipe two days ahead.
- ½ telegraph cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 500 ml Shaoxing wine (2 cups)
- 200 ml dark soy sauce
- 15 gm ginger, thickly sliced (3cm piece)
- 2 spring onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 duck
- 230 ml brown rice vinegar
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 3 long pepper pods (see note)
- 1 red chilli, split, sliced diagonally
- 1 star anise
- ¼ honeydew melon, thinly sliced
- 1For red-braised duck, bring Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, ginger, spring onion and 5 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add duck, weight with a plate and bring back to the boil, then remove from heat and set aside in liquid to cool completely. Remove duck from liquid (discard liquid) and pat dry with absorbent paper. With kitchen scissors or a large sharp knife, cut down either side of the backbone (remove and discard spine), then cut lengthways through the breastbone. Place skin-side up on a wire rack and refrigerate, uncovered, until skin dries out (2 days).
- 2For pickled melon, combine vinegar, sugar, long pepper, chilli, star anise and 3 tsp sea salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside to cool. Place melon in a large bowl, pour vinegar liquid over and refrigerate to lightly pickle (1 hour).
- 3Heat oil in a large wok to 180C (do not fill too high, as oil will overflow when duck is added). Remove duck legs from breasts and trim breast pieces, add to wok, skin-side down, in batches and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until skin is crisp and deep golden (5-10 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain well on absorbent paper, cut into pieces and transfer to a platter.
- 4Strain pickled melon into a bowl, add cucumber, toss to combine and drizzle with a little pickling liquid. Serve with hot duck scattered with black pepper and sea salt flakes.
Long pepper is available from Indian, Indonesian or Malaysian grocers or Herbie’s Spices.
This recipe is from the February 2013 issue of