In May of this year, the FoodTrients team travelled to Yantai, China for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards to receive the ‘Best in the World’ award for Innovation for my most recent cookbook, The Age Beautifully Cookbook: Easy and Exotic Longevity Secrets from around the World. As you can imagine, we sampled extraordinary food during the many days of this event as we traveled to Shanghai and Beijing. One of the highlights was a meal we had at the Fairmont Hotel’s Dragon Phoenix restaurant in Shanghai where we ordered their Peking Duck Three Ways. The beautifully cooked duck was brought to the table and prepared in three deliciously different dishes – on a pancake with plum sauce, in a vegetable stir-fry, and in a tasty soup. You can add cucumber and/or scallions to the pancakes if desired.
Traditional Peking duck is made by pumping air between duck skin and flesh. The skin is glazed with a hoisin sauce and honey mixture and hung to dry. Then the duck is roasted until the skin becomes super crisp. While it’s still hot, the meat is cut into small squares and served with thin pancakes accompanied by scallions and hoisin sauce. The meat is secondary to the crispy skin. Even if you’ve never thought you’d like duck, this dish is irresistible.
With the holidays upon us, duck is a festive and tasty alternative to turkey or other traditional entrees. Why not serve duck at every course?
Nutrition-wise, duck is an excellent source of high quality protein plus niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, iron, zinc, vitamin B-6 and thiamine. It also provides small but significant amounts of vitamin B-12, folate and magnesium. Duck meat is relatively high in fat, but it’s only about 33 percent saturated fat, compared to butter, which is 51 percent fat. Duck fat contains significant levels of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which olive oil has in large amounts. Research suggests oleic acid may be behind the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet, which helps reduce cholesterol and promote heart health.
After we enjoyed the duck on a pancake, we moved on to a perfectly combined stir fry. You can replace chicken or beef with duck breast in most stir fry recipe. In the Age Beautifully Cookbook there is a recipe for Stir-Fry Korean Glass Noodles. The noodles are made with sweet potato starch, so they’re gluten-free, low calorie and will fit right in with your holiday menu. Instead of using beef in the recipe, use four skinless, boneless Peking duck breasts (6 ounces each), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. The duck makes this dish really special.
Instead of soup as your third duck dish, I thought it would be nice to serve a satisfying salad. I remember thinking that all of these dishes would be great for the holidays, particularly a salad with bright, beautiful red and green bell peppers.
Peking Duck Salad
2-6 oz. duck breasts, skin on
1 Tbs. peanut oil
4 oz. bag arugula
1 bunch scallions, washed and sliced diagonally
1 green bell pepper cut into strips
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
For the dressing:
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbs. honey
½ Tbs. sesame oil
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Score the skin of the duck breasts and season with salt and pepper.
- In a sauté pan, heat the peanut oil and cook the duck breasts skin side down about 4 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Turn the breasts over to brown the underside and place in a baking pan.
- Mix the dressing ingredients and spoon over the duck, reserving 2 Tbsp. Add the sesame oil to the reserved dressing and mix.
- Roast the duck for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let the duck rest for 5 minutes; slice into strips.
- Toss with the arugula, scallions and bell peppers; drizzle the remaining dressing and serve.
There you have it. A memorable holiday meal with three courses of duck!
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