Duck with Soy Sauce and Ginger

All year

This dish is inspired by a recipe from Akira Oshima, the former chef of the restaurant Yamazato in Hotel Okura. In 2002 the restaurant has been awarded with a Michelin star, making Akira Oshima the only Japanese chef in Europe who has been awarded with a Michelin star. The original dish is called Aigamo Rösuni and is included in Yamazato: Kaiseki Recipes: Secrets of the Japanese Cuisine, published in 2007.
The original has a more complex taste and the combination of the sweet Soy sauce with the duck works better, but this quick version isn’t too bad.

The dish combines the sweetness of duck and soy sauce with the spiciness of the red pepper and fresh ginger. The surprise is in combining it with the raw and slightly bitter chicory. The mustard will remind you of wasabi, but that would be too overpowering. The chicory is crispy, as is the skin of the duck.

You could combine with a white wine, provided it has lots of character. Maybe a Gewürztraminer. A red wine is the more obvious choice: a rich, warm Carignan will do nicely. The wine needs to combine with the richness of the dish and of course the sweetness of the soy sauce and the mirin. Duck is somewhat sweet in its own right and the sauce amplifies this. The wine should be fruity (plum), spicy and definitely not too woody.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 small breasts of duck or 1 large one
  • Soy sauce (we prefer the version with less salt)
  • Mirin
  • Yuzu
  • Ginger (fresh)
  • Red pepper
  • Chicory
  • Mustard

Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the fridge. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold.
Cut the skin (not the meat!) in a crosshatch pattern, let’s say 1-2 centimeter apart. Doing this helps the fat render and it will give a crispy result.
Normally you want meat you intend to serve red to be on room temperature. In this case the meat must be cold because this allows for frying it relatively long. The meat will remain red and the fat will be compact and crispy.

Fry the duck in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 1 minute on the meat side and remove. Cover with aluminum foil is such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover meat.
Remove most of the fat from the pan, but not all. Cut half a red pepper is small pieces and fry these gently in the fat. Add grated ginger (let’s say 2 – 3 centimeter), stir, add mirin and soy sauce. Keep warm. After 5 minutes remove the breast from the foil, add the liquid to the skillet and warm the breast on the meat sauce for 2 minutes. Remove the breast and put back in the foil (still not covering the skin). Wait for another 5 minutes and add liquid from the breast to the sauce. Stir, keep warm. Repeat this after 5 minutes. Now remove the breast and cut in slices (we like fairly big slices, you may prefer thinner ones). Make sure that any liquid left is added to the sauce.
Stir the sauce, add a bit of Yuzu to add acidity to the sauce, heat a bit more, put on the plates and put the slices of duck on top of it. Add a few leaves of the chicory and a touch of mustard.