So, we have two lavender recipes in a row – which is what can happen if you have a big bunch of delicious smelling lavender hanging around your flat, constantly triggering your food-obsessed brain off in all kinds of directions. After making the lamb, I put the remaining stems on my desk as a soothing scent to guide me through exam-hell but instead, I came up with this recipe.
I’ve been meaning to have a go at smoking duck with earl grey tea for ages as I love the flavour of bergamot and so Chris and I fashioned a steamer from a roasting tray, a cooling rack and some tin foil. I threw in some lemon zest and lavender stems and it came together really well, producing the most delicately perfumed, succulent duck. Thankfully, the lavender and bergamot were still discernible but not overpowering, a total fluke on my part as I had no idea of the right quantities.
With the smoked duck in mind, we took a trip to our local Chinese supermarket yesterday where I also spotted they sell fresh durian fruit. I’ve seen them frozen here before but never fresh. After reading Pim’s post recently, I’ve become more interested and very slightly less scared about trying one. I don’t have the nerve yet and so, apart from stocking up on kaffir lime and curry leaves, we picked up some rice wrappers to make some pancake rolls with strips of crispy spring onion, cucumber and soft, sweet mango. We dunked them in a dipping sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar, honey, chilli flakes and coriander with a touch of sesame oil.
The duck rolls were perfect for the sunny weather we had yesterday. Today, it’s raining again but that’s ok as my urban kitchen garden is getting a good soaking.There is something about growing your own food when you have limited space that is really satisfying. Here’s a couple of work in progress shots. You can see that the bay tree has sprung into action and the tomatoes are unstoppable!
We’re also growing potatoes, two plants, in a grow bag I cut into two and stood on it’s ends. If anyone tells you it’s not possible to grow potatoes on a balcony, they are wrong. Of course, I’ll probably only get a few meals but I’m still proud.
Earl Grey and Lavender Smoked Duck
2 duck breasts
A generous grind of black pepper
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 star anise
The zest of 1 lemon
25g earl grey tea leaves
4oz golden caster sugar
A few sprigs of lavender, I used dried and stripped the flowers from the stems to yield about a heaped tablespoon
Your choice of fillings – we used mango, cucumber, spring onions and coriander leaves.
Preheat the oven to Gas6/200C/400F
– Score the fat of the duck in a criss-cross pattern, taking care not to slice through the meat. Mix together the salt, pepper, ginger and star anise, spread over the duck and allow to marinate for a couple of hours if possible.
– If you have a wok with a lid and a rack that sits inside, double line the bottom with heavy duty foil and do the same for the lid, leaving an overhang at the edges so that you can seal it tightly during cooking.
– Mix together the tea leaves, lavender, lemon zest and sugar and sprinkle over the bottom of the wok in an even layer. Set the rack inside, put the duck on it and heat on medium until wisps of smoke start to appear.
– Reduce the heat to low, add the lid and seal tightly, crimping the foil together like a pasty around the edges.
– Smoke for 10 minutes. Towards the end of this time, begin heating an oven proof frying pan or skillet. When the 10 minutes are up, remove the duck from the wok and put into the frying pan, rendering the fat down for about 5 minutes or so until golden brown and crispy.
– Put the duck in the oven, skin side up, for 5 minutes then remove and allow to cool to room temperature. Slice and serve with your chosen fillings.
If your wok does not have a rack, like ours, use something like a roasting tin with a cooling rack inside it and then make a domed lid using foil.