Five Spice Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Spicy Asparagus

I haven’t made duck in a long time and I seem to recall the last time was when I lived in Hoboken, New Jersey–that was a long time ago! I remember dropping the duck too quickly into the oil-filled wok and SPLASH; oil all over the stove and walls. This was the time I made a 14 course Chinese dinner on my birthday for friends; it all turned out fine in the end.

Here I am in my kitchen cooking the duck breasts:


2 duck breasts
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
olive oil for frying
1 tsp fennel seed
2 carrots, halved and cut thinly lengthwise
2 leeks, halved and cut thinly lengthwise
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey


1. Cut crisscross slashes through the duck skin, making sure you don’t cut into the meat. Rub the duck with the five-spice and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a frying pan and add a little oil. When it is hot, add the duck breasts skin-side down. Turn the heat down a little and fry for 8–10 minutes or until the skin is crisp and brown and the fat has started to appear from under the skin. Wipe out the excess fat with paper towels.
3. Turn the breasts over and add the fennel to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the duck breasts feel firm to the touch but not too firm; you want them pink in the middle. Take the duck breasts out, keep warm, and let them rest for 5 minutes.
4. Now add the leek and carrots to the pan and cook briefly. Add the soy sauce and honey and cook a few more minutes. Return duck to pan to warm. Cut duck into slices and Serve.

The asparagus recipe is from The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook (from which I got all the recipes for that party I mentioned). Simply: cut the asparagus into 1 inch section; discard tough white ends; parboil 2 minutes; drain and transfer to serving dish; mix 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, and a 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Heartbreaking Dawns “1498 Trinidad Scorpion Sauce!”) and pour over asparagus.


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