Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thai Roast Duck Salad


So, I googled "game meat" and according to Wikipedia, "Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated. Game animals are also hunted for sport". I never knew that duck was considered game until someone told me that it is not commonly served or eaten in the United States for that very reason. Well, it makes sense now that I recall seeing duck hunting on TV (specifically the old Looney Tunes cartoons featuring Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck - rings a bell?). Maybe because I've grown up eating a lot of Chinese roast duck (and Peking duck during special occasions), and so I can't say that it tastes gamey at all. Or maybe duck just tastes best when it's roasted until the fat has rendered and the skin's gone all thin and crispy. The only thing I don't like about duck is that it's really boney and fatty. If you buy half a roast duck, you'd end up with half of it being bones and fat. The meat and skin however is very tasty. If you've watched the "roast duck seller" chop up a roast duck before, you might notice how he tips out the juices from the cavity and reserves them, probably to make the duck sauce or gravy. It's so good over steamed white rice.

In my previous post, I wrote about my wine pairing lunch with a Thai-inspired theme, and one of the dishes was a Thai Roast Duck Salad. I bought the roast duck from the Chinese barbecue shop, which made the preparation of this salad really easy. Alternatively, you could buy some duck breast and pan-fry it until the fat's rendered and the skin's all thin and crispy. If after all my raving about duck and you're still not game (pardon the pun) enough for it, you can substitute the duck with beef steak, pan-seared to medium rare and thinly sliced. Or why not try it with stir-fried beef or chicken if you're in the mood for something warm? The proof is in the dressing!
Thai-style Roast Duck Salad
Serves 6
One whole Chinese roasted duck (store-bought), meat picked and sliced
200g (7oz) mixed salad leaves (spinach, endive/frisee, rocket)
1 handful fresh coriander (cut off the bottom part of the stem)
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly torn
1 cucumber, halved lengthways, seeded and diagonally sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
Crispy fried shallots for garnish
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped scallions
3-4 bird's eye chillies, thinly sliced
7-8 tbsp freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp grated palm sugar
3-4 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic into a paste. Then add the rest of the dressing ingredients and mix well using the pestle. Taste and adjust until you get the right balance of sweet, sour and salty. Set aside.
  2. Place the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and top with the sliced duck meat. Just before serving, drizzle with the prepared dressing and toss well until evenly mixed. Garnish with crispy fried shallots.