If you know this blog, you know that I don’t cut a lot of corners. In the era of 5-ingredient, 20-minute meals I stubbornly (stupidly?) continue to post long, long recipes. Week after week I come at you with overnight brines, batches of homemade pasta, and simple syrups. Two-week infused rum cocktails, pleated dumplings, and high maintenance poached chicken breasts. I swear I don’t do it to alienate you, I do it because it’s hard and sometimes doing something hard feels really good! And sometimes it doesn’t. And one of those times was this week. I was up to my eyeballs in work and other people’s problems. It was one of those weeks where you feel like you could totally scream into a pillow for the entirety of the weekend. And when you find yourself crawling towards the weekend, today’s Duck Fried Rice will be there for you.
See? I don’t cook difficult and fancy every night. Some nights I eat pasta that I, get this, didn’t make. I, like, bought it at a store. I know, it’s a trip. And yes, some nights I clean out my crisper and throw everything into a wok and hope for the best. And you know what? Most of the time the best happens. That’s why I like a good stir-fry or bowl of fried rice. They’re easy to make and so goddamn comforting that you wonder why you ever bother grabbing takeout.
Fried rice is sort of a thing for me. I grew up on the stuff. My mom, like me, used her fried rice as a vehicle for all the veg we’d forgotten about throughout the week. And although it was a recipe of necessity, I was obsessed with her fried rice. I always asked her to make a double the batch so I could eat it for lunch all week long. I am not like that with any food…With the exception of pho, I can’t say no to pho.
When it comes to eating, I generally have the attention span of a gnat. I don’t repeat meals, I resent leftovers so much that I have to turn them into something new before I will even consider eating them. I know, this decadence does not become me. Okay, so I do eat leftovers. I would be stranded in the middle of a compost heap if I didn’t. Leftovers are a bit of an occupational hazard…Okay, the word “hazard” may be a bit strong, but I do feel like the contents of my fridge sort of run my life from time to time.
I’ve turned down dinner invitations because I’ve feared for a casserole and its fleeting edibility in the back of my fridge. That’s why I find dishes like today’s Duck Fried Rice strangely cleansing. It allows me to rid my fridge of all the things that I’m poised to feel guilty about. Basically, everything that will be disgusting in a heartbeat and I will have to throw out. And as we’ve established, I really can’t handle throwing anything out. This has only gotten worse since I watch the Explained episode on the World’s Water Crisis. It’s super interesting but holy crap do we all suck!
But while I may be nothing but a burden to this planet’s natural resources, this Duck Fried Rice will not be a burden to you. So, let’s talk about the rice for now because I don’t think I have the skill set to tackle the world’s water crisis. Fried rice? Yes! Resource-saving science? No. So, Duck Fried Rice it is.
This dish is what I lovingly call a “lazy recipe”. I call it a “lazy recipe” because I didn’t make everything that went into it. Yes, I, the preserver of cumbersome corners, did not smoke my own duck breast. I bought the thing pre-packaged for extra convenience and I’m not sorry I did. It cuts the prep time in half if you just buy a presmoked breast, but if you want to smoke your own duck breast, I get you. In fact, usually I am you, so you have my blessing – smoke away!
The rest of this dish is a cast of characters direct from my crisper with the exception of the blue plums and the watercress. I’ve only recently started working with watercress and I had yet to try it warm. I know a lot of Chinese dishes include the green, wok-kissed and wonderful, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. And honestly, I think the watercress might be a fried rice mainstay for me now. It’s so refreshing, it has a hint of grassiness and a touch of bitter astringency. It paired beautifully with the richness of the smoked duck breast.
The blue plums were selected for this Duck Fried Rice because I knew I wanted a hit of sweet but not too sweet. I selected plums that were on the verge of ripe but still a little green on the inside. This gave the fried rice notes of sour that were not unlike that of a pickle. It paired exceptionally well with the soy sauce and five spice powder seasoning. The blue plums love them some star anise!
So, that about does it for today’s Duck Fried Rice. It tastes like a Saturday but it cooks like a Monday. Plus, it makes leftovers worth having. Not an easy feat!
Duck Fried Rice with Blue Plums & Cashews
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 smoked duck breast sliced thin
- 8-9 blue plums pitted and cut into wedges
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced
- 1 bunch broccolini coarsely chopped
- 3 cups watercress washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews
- 3 red chilies thinly sliced
- 4 cups cooked brown basmati or jasmine rice cold*
- 1/4 cup fresh mint finely chopped
- *Leftover rice is best for this recipe. If you don't have any on hand cook your rice a day ahead and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- Place the soy sauce, wine, honey, five spice powder and white pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Heat a quarter-sized amount of canola oil in a large wok over a high heat until shimmering. Add the duck and the plums and saute until the duck begins to curl and caramelized. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the duck and the plums from the hot oil to a plate. Set aside.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger and carrots to the wok and saute until the onions become translucent. About 5 minutes. Add the broccolini to the wok and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the watercress, cashews and chilies and cook until the watercress has wilted, then add the duck and plums back in and bring them back up to temperature.
- Next, add the rice, the soy sauce mixture and the mint to the wok. Toss to coat. Cook until the rice is heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the wok from the heat and divide the fried rice amongst 4-6 bowls and serve immediately with beer.