Woks have a 2,000 year history of being a versatile all-in-one pan, but like most Americans, I tend to only use mine for stir frying. Smoking duck breast is a great way to add sensational, complex flavors to the meat and is much easier than you think. It can be done right in your kitchen in under an hour. Last year, my wife and I went on a Chinatown tour in NYC that took us to a traditional Peking duck restaurant. The Peking Chef that prepares the duck must also slice the duck and they do it right at your table. They take the slices of duck and wrap it up in a pancake (more like a tortilla than an American pancake) with green onions, cucumbers and hoisin sauce. It's a simple and tasty dish! I thought that would be a great way to serve up our smoked duck.
In my opinion, every Cleveland cooking adventure should start in the same place…The West Side Market. After a brief detour for lunch at Nano Brew, we headed to City Roast Coffee & Tea for some loose-leaf green tea. Then, on our search for duck breast, we ended up at Kaufmann Poultry just around the corner.
1 duck breast, split - Kaufmann Poultry
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 star anise
½ cup green tea - City Roast Coffee & Tea
½ cup uncooked rice
½ cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
Mandarin pancakes, store bought or homemade - This isn't what you picture as your standard pancake. It is closer to a tortilla wrapper.
2 green onions, cut into matchsticks
½ cucumber, cut into matchsticks
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp hot water
1 tsp sesame oil
Trim any excess fat from the duck breast and cut slits in the skin. This will help extra fat to be released during the cooking process. In a bowl, mix the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Add the duck and rub the marinade into the skin and meat. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat your wok over medium heat and add the oil. Sear the duck skin side down to crisp the skin and give a caramel color, about 3 minutes. Move the duck to a plate and clean out the wok.
Cover the bottom of the wok with foil and add the star anise, tea, rice, sugar and cinnamon. Note: Experiment with different teas and herbs. Woodchips, citrus peels, ginger, coriander seeds are all great things to try. Place a metal rack or steamer basket in the wok and cover with the wok lid. Note: Wok lids are not usually made to be tight fitting to the wok. Wrap the edge of the lid in foil, so when you press it down on the wok the foil will help seal it. Note: If you can, avoid using a rack that will touch the bottom of the wok – it will make clean up much easier. When the heated sugar cools, everything is like concrete.
Turn the heat to high until the wok begins to smoke. Now add the duck breasts skin-up and reduce the heat to medium. Cover to allow it to smoke for 10 minutes. Note: Take out the battery of your smoke – BUT don’t forget to put it back. Turn off heat (don’t remove the lid) and allow the duck to rest in the wok for another 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix together the hoisin sauce, water, and sesame oil. Thinly slice the breasts. Serve the duck with the pancakes, green onions, cucumber and hoisin mixture. Wrap up and enjoy!