I realize I say this a lot on this blog but today’s Seared Duck Salad with Hoisin Marmalade Glaze is my new favorite recipe. For me, this isn’t a surprise. It has everything I love and look for in a meal. A rich piece of protein paired with a refreshing pile of greens dressed in a sharp, acidic dressing. It offers indulgent flavors that rest heavily on the palette before being ushered away by brighter, lighter notes. This dish provides contrast but is balanced. And it is surprisingly easy to prepare. No really, searing a duck breast is easier than poaching an egg. To be honest, I think everything is easier than poaching an egg. Nothing gives me the sweats more than the thought of poaching eggs for a crowd. But that’s beside the point.
This is the second to last dish on my nostalgic holiday menu and I suppose you could call this the main event. It may be a little strange to offer a festive salad as the climax of any dinner let alone a holiday one. But this salad is special. This salad pays homage to not one but two meals from my youth.
When I was growing up, roast duck was our holiday roast of choice. My mom would stuff them with clementines and ginger and roast them until crisp in the oven. She always roasted multiple ducks for the sole purpose of generating leftovers. And thank goodness she did because the duck stir fry we made in the days following Christmas is actually my all-time favorite holiday meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a roast dinner with all the fixings quite a lot. But that duck stir fry was something special.
Fast forward to today and this Seared Duck Salad. This dish borrows from both the main event dinner and the leftover feast. In place of a whole duck, I opted for seared duck breast. Duck breast is a great way to get your duck fix without committing to a whole bird, which in a two-person household is a very good option to have. And if you go the duck breast route, you can quickly scale the meal up or down as your headcount dictates. We find one duck breast that will handily feed two people. But since it’s the holidays, you would be well within your rights to indulge and serve a breast per person.
Duck breasts are a good choice for another reason – they practically cook themselves. Okay, I am exaggerating but only just. To cook a duck breast start by scoring the fat with a sharp knife in a crosshatch pattern. Be sure to keep your cuts shallow, you don’t want to cut through to the flesh. The scoring encourages the fat to render out of the duck. Cutting all the way to the flesh will expose it to the heat of the skillet, which will speed up the cooking process of the flesh itself. And we don’t want that, we want the flesh to cook slowly and reach its optimal internal temperature only when enough of the fat has had the opportunity to render out.
And speaking of that fat, to achieve a very crispy yet rare duck breast, it’s best to start the duck fat side down in a cold skillet. Cook your duck over medium-low heat. I kept my stove temperature very low because my burners tend to run hot. You may have to increase the heat if your stove is less aggressive. Leave the duck fat side down for a good 15 minutes and drain the fat from the skillet frequently for maximum crispiness. And don’t get rid of that fat. Duck fat potatoes on Boxing Day are not something you want to miss out on. Once the 15 minutes are up, flip the duck and increase the heat slightly. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the duck reaches an internal temperature of 130-135°F. This will result in a rare duck breast.
As with most cuts of meat, duck likes a rest period. And this moment of rest and relaxation is extremely helpful because while the duck is resting we can make the pan sauce. Start by deglazing the pan with some Shaoxing wine. If you can’t track down Shaoxing wine, sherry will do in a pinch. Make sure you take the time to scrape up all those browned caramelized bits that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan. Add the marmalade, orange juice, and hoisin. Simmer until glossy and then pour it over the duck. And that’s the duck.
The salad is something you can easily work on in the background while the duck does its thing. Although, I prefer to have the shallots pickling and the veg chopped before the duck hits the skillet. It just makes for a more leisurely cooking experience. In my salad, I used yu choy, carrots, purple cabbage, Cara Cara oranges, and scallions. But feel free to mix things up with your favorite veggies and fruit. I’ve made something similar to this using raw bok choy, so if yu choy isn’t something you come across all that often bok choy is a great substitute. There is one thing in this salad that I do think is mandatory and that is the cashews, barring any food allergies, of course. Duck meat and cashews just love each other. Full stop.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Seared Duck Salad with Hoisin Marmalade Glaze. I realize this is a surprisingly light holiday option but I promise the duck definitely keeps things indulgent.
Seared Duck Salad with Hoisin Marmalade Glaze
- 1 Large skillet
- 1 mandoline
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 Cara Cara oranges divided
- 1 duck breast
- ¼ cup Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp hoisin heaping
- 1 tbsp marmalade
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups yu choy finely chopped
- ¼ head red cabbage shredded
- 3 scallions finely chopped
- 2 small carrots sliced thin on a mandolin
- 1 cup lightly salted cashews
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- fresh mint leaves
- gochugaru ** for sprinkling
- Place the shallot in a small bowl and cover it with the rice wine vinegar. Set it aside to pickle.1 shallot, ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- Juice one of the Cara Cara oranges and set the juice aside. Segment the second orange and squeeze any excess juice into the shallots. Set the orange segments aside as well.2 Cara Cara oranges
- Create a series of shallow cuts on the fat layer of the duck in a crosshatch formation. Make sure you don't cut through to the flesh. Generously season the fat side and lightly season the flesh side with salt.1 duck breast
- Place the duck fat side down in a cold skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook the duck for 15 minutes, draining the fat every so often. *** Flip the duck and increase the heat to medium. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the duck registers an internal temperature of 130°F. **** Take the duck out of the skillet, tent it in foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the orange juice, marmalade, and hoisin. Cook until the sauce is glossy and pour it over the duck breast.¼ cup Shaoxing wine, 2 tbsp hoisin, 1 tbsp marmalade
- Add sesame oil, honey, sambal oelek, and salt to the pickled shallots and whisk to combine. Place the yu choy, orange segments, red cabbage, scallions, carrots, cashews, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and toss to coat.2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp sambal oelek, ½ tsp salt, 2 cups yu choy, ¼ head red cabbage, 3 scallions, 2 small carrots, 1 cup lightly salted cashews, 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- Place the salad in a couple of bowls. Slice the duck and add the slices to the bowls. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a sprinkling of chili flakes. Serve immediately.fresh mint leaves, gochugaru **