Looking through my past commentaries published in The Southland Times, we have cooked duck during the duck-hunting season each year, in a variety of ways. Slowly braised, pan-fried, roasted, smoked, marinated - and we have even made pot stickers (dumplings).
Once again this year I thought I would wait a few weeks before I approached the subject - giving readers time to try out the old and trusted cooking methods and, as usual, giving the hunters and gatherers a chance to secure their prey and giving their partners time to gut, pluck and have the remains ready for cooking.
From all accounts this season has been a bit of a mixed bag for the hunters, with some having exceptional results and others achieving little more than a good time.
One of the problems when dealing with our feral duck can be the proportion of meat to the size of the carcass. At times it can be at best somewhat meagre.
Take care when choosing any game bird for cooking. Always go for the smaller bird that feels heavy in weight. That way you will get a better proportion of meat per carcass weight. Also choose a bird that does not have a protruding breastbone as it will be older with very little meat on the breast and suitable only for braising, not roasting.
These days it seems most of our hunters and gatherers simply bring home the breasts from the bird, making the choice of cooking methods somewhat limited. Try to encourage them to at least leave the skin on the breasts.
By leaving the skin on you will prevent the meat from drying out during grilling or frying. You will also be able to save any remaining fat in the pan for later use when frying bread for croutons, roasting potatoes or, alternatively, as a binding agent for a stuffing to increase the flavour of another dish.
It is now time to pass the duck breast back to the hunter who can cook the dish for you. On this occasion you can remove the skin.
Today's dish is a very simple, yet tasty, stir-fry.
The sauce can be made in advance and will prove to be a useful addition to have in the fridge for any other stir-fry at a later date.
DUCK STIR-FRY (4 portions)
|For the sauce|
|1 tsp sesame oil|
|1 Tbsp Chinese wine|
|1 generous tsp Hoisin sauce|
|1 generous tsp oyster sauce|
|1 Tbsp soy sauce|
|1 whole star anise|
|1 Tbsp grated ginger|
|1 tsp crushed garlic|
|For the stir fry|
|2 duck breasts, sliced|
|2 tsp peanut oil|
|2 red chillies|
|1 good handful of whole green beans sliced into strips|
|1 cup of mung bean sprouts|
|150 grams fresh egg noodles|
Sliced spring onions and fresh coriander for garnishing
For the sauce
1. Place all the ingredients in a heavy based sauce pan and bring to the boil.
2. Remove from the heat and put aside.
For the stir-fry
1. Place the oil into a wok or heavy based fry and heat.
2. Add the duck and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the chilli, beans sprouts and toss until aromatic.
3. Add the pre-cooked noodles and the sauce and toss.
4. Garnish with the coriander and spring onions.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/ Bainfield Rd roundabout.
- The Southland Times