Slow Roasted Duck, Smashed Cucumbers, Hoi Sin Sauce

A good home made Hoi Sin sauce has been the Holy Grail for me recently. I've tried plenty of other bloggers recipes but none gave me the sugary tangy thrill of the bottled sauce I buy in the Asian market.

Slow Roasted Duck, Hoi Sin, Smashed Cucumbers On a recent trip to New York I tasted a home made Hoi Sin which came from a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrows new cookbook. It was amazing. Not quite the junk food rush of the Asian bottled sauce, but its the closest I've made at home so far. The magic is in using miso and maple syrup to give you the sweet/salty base and Chinese 5 spice for the the Asian high notes. 

There is nothing better than duck, cucumbers and Hoi Sin, so I thought this would be a great dish to try out Gwyneth's home-made Hoi Sin sauce. I usually pickle the cucumbers, but I wanted to mess with a smashed cucumber recipe that I recently sampled in Mission Street Chinese Food in NYC, (cookbook here). The Mission St recipe takes large chunks of cucumber and mushes them in vinegar, garlic, sesame paste and salted chili. As I was serving them with shredded duck, I thought ribbons of cucumber would work better than chunks with the flaked duck. Plain white rice and duck fat roasted potatoes are used as side dishes, but the real highlight is the duck skin. Carefully removed at the end and roasted at a super high heat for a final few minutes, until the duck skin puffs and crisps up.

Hoi Sin Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Grapseed Oil
1 Large Garlic clove (finely minced)
1/2 Teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice Powder
100g of Red Miso Paste
125g of Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons of Brown Rice Vinegar

Smashed Cucumbers

1 large cucumber cut into large chunks or shaved into ribbons
1 Tablespoon of Tahini
1 Tablespoon of Crispy Preserved Chilli's (Your Asian store will have a jar - otherwise pickle some in salt/vinegar yourself)
1 Tablespoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Black Vinegar (Get some from your Asian market)
1 Large Garlic clove (finely minced)
1/2 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil

For the Hoi Sin Sauce

Heat the Oil in a Saucepan. Add the garlic and 5 spice powder and cook for about a minute. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil whilst stirring constantly. Keep cooking for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Add a dash of soy sauce to darken if required.

For the Smashed Cucumbers

Take the large chunks of cucumber and bash with a rolling pin to release some juices. Sprinkle over the salt, mix and let stand for 10 minutes (if working with shaved ribbons, no need to bash). Combine all the other ingredients in a separate small bowl. Drain the cucumber, pour over the sauce, stir well and serve immediately.

For the Duck

Slow Roast whole duck for 4 to 5 hours over a low heat (120C). Start by piercing the duck skin around the breast (careful not to stab through to the flesh if you can help it). Cook breast side down for the first 2 hours (to help render out all the fat) and flip it over for the final 2 hours. Remove the skin in large pieces after the duck has been in for the 4 hours. Turn up the heat to 220C and lay the skin out on a baking tray to crisp up (keep an eye on it might take 2 minutes, might take 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fat.

For the Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes

When the duck has roasted breast side down for the first 2 hours, it will have released a lot of fat. Drain it and use it to roast some roughly peeled and cubed potatoes on a lower tray in the oven for the 2 hours while the duck is roasting breast side up. Keep an eye on them. They might get over done, but generally I find that they soak up all the fat and benefit from a final blast for a few minutes along with the skin.

Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow

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