Duck is very expensive, you don't hear of many students eating it. This is something I'd probably cook if I was on a date etc. These duck breasts weigh 350g and they cost £8 usually but they're on offer and I got them for £5. (Gressingham - really nice quality. You can get about 230g of duck breast at Aldi for about £3.70 I think but I can't vouch for quality as I've not tried them)
I take the breasts out and pat them down gently as they're a bit slimy from being in the vacuum pack. I let them air out and increase in temperature for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, I put fennel seeds, cloves, schezwan pepper, ground cinnamon and star anise into the pestle & mortar and grind away. The aromas are absolutely incredible. My housemate could smell it from another room. The stuff is potent, so I only need a little for the breasts (about a tablespoon for two breasts) and I save the rest for later.
I sharpen my new knife and score the skin. As you can see, I vastly underestimated how sharp my knife is. I applied quite literally no pressure, I just scratched the surface but the blade was so sharp I accidently cut into the meat for a few scores. When scoring, don't go deeper than the skin (for example pork belly/shoulder joint). I season generously with salt and brush with the 5 spice.
I let the flavours infuse into the duck and in the mean time, I start to prepare everything else.
Spring onions I slice into thin strips and place in iced water. This curls them up. Purely for aesthetic purposes as I'm using these as a garnish.
I degerm the garlic and peel (without crushing, it took me ages to peel it...) and then I slice in half. I have some milk I need to use today, so I blanch the garlic in 100g of milk (I use grams for liquids, come at me). I slowly bring it to the boil on a low heat, then I discard the milk and wash the garlic with cold water. I then add 100g of fresh milk again and repeat the process 3 more times for a total of 400g of milk..for 2 cloves of garlic. It's tedious, but the purpose of this is to introduce a nutty, sweet characteristic into the garlic and since I have spare milk I thought why not. Once that's done, I take the garlic out, wash it with cold water and chop finely with the chillis and fresh ginger. (I didn't use Lazy Ginger this time - I was tempted, the garlic alone took about 30 minutes). Whilst all of this is happening, my pan is heating up.
I wash the Pak choi and get that ready for later.
The pan is nice and hot, with no oil I place the duck breasts into the pan (medium heat) skin side down. I let the fat render out, then I cook it for 3 minutes. I flip the breasts, then cook for 1 minute. I flip again...3 minutes. I flip again....1 minute. I repeat this process twice more for total cooking time of 24 minutes, no oven. This constant flipping ensures a beautiful crispy skin but pink inside as you don't really allow the bottom to cook for very long. I accidently upped the heat without thinking, so the colour on the inside isn't lovely and pink, but it still turns out amazingly juicy and soft, with perfect skin, so I'm still happy.
Jasmine rice is now on the hob. Duck is done. I place on a cooling rack, discard the oil down the sink because **** the environment and my landlord. (I'm kidding). I cover the oil with flour and make like a little oil dough, then bake and eat. (I'm kidding). I just bin it once it's cooled.
I add a little groundnut oil (nice and neutral flavour) to a clean pan, add the pak choi and try to instill a little colour. The pan wasn't hot enough so this fails. I add the mirin (a beautifully sweet rice wine) and the smell is amazing. I add the spring onions and some garden peas and immediately take off the heat.
I combine the light soy sauce with the blanched garlic, chili, ginger and put in a bowl for a little garnish to go along with the spring onions.
Guys, duck is served.
Total cooking time: approx 2 hours.
Total eating time: about 5 minutes.
I had a lot of fun making this, hope you find it interesting!