Smoked Dry-Aged Duck Breast, served with Chinese Steamed Buns, Cucumber, Scallions, Cilantro, and Tian Mian Sauce

This was the fourth course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

This year I decided to serve the last savory course family-style! And it turned out so great!!!! I would have been happy if this was the only course served because it’s that amazing!!!

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 3 ducks (legs used in previous course)
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Remove the backbone and have the ducks lying open with breasts up on a wire rack over a sheet tray. Place in fridge and dry-age for 2 weeks.

After two weeks, butcher duck breasts off and score them. Season duck breasts with salt & pepper, turn heat to the lowest setting and place a large pan on the stove. Place breast in the pan with skin-side down. Render the fat to all the breasts slowly. Every few minutes, pour away rendered fat. After 10 minutes, turn breast around and cook flesh side for 3 seconds and remove from pan and place on a wire rack, skin-side up, to rest.

Using a smoke gun, place duck breasts in a single layer in a glass dish and wrap in plastic. Smoke duck for 10 minutes.

In a pre-heated oven of 500°F, flash heat duck breasts for 1 minute, allow to rest, then slice and serve.

For the Accoutrements

  • Steamed buns (I used 2 packs of 15 for six people)
  • 12 Persian cucumbers, cored and julienned
  • Scallions, julienned
  • Micro cilantro
  • Tian Mian 甜面酱/sweet bean sauce (needs to get sautéed with oil, then cooked with some water for consistency, and salt/sugar for taste)

Cucumber & Krab Salad

I was craving for imitation crab meat earlier this morning… why? I have no idea. I haven’t had it in years! So I made it for lunch and the craving was quelled.

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[100% organic]

For the Dressing

  • 3 TBS rice wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 TBS dashi

In a small pot, melt ingredients together until sugar has dissolved. Take off heat and set aside to cool.

For the Salad

  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 TBS wakame
  • 4 krab sticks
  • White sesame seeds, toasted
  • Salt

Rehydrate wakame in some water to cover.

Peel cucumbers and then using a mandolin, slice into thin pieces. Sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers and let it sit for 5 minutes. Rinse under running water and using your hands, squeeze out water. Then place in a bowl.

Shred krab sticks and place with the cucumbers. Add rehydrated wakame into the bowl and the dressing. Plate and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Seared Tuna over a Bed of Cucumber with Pickled Peanuts

This was the second course to my 2012 Thanksgiving dinner.

I could eat this non-stop and never get tired of it. I made the dressing and let it macerate overnight and it became very spicy actually – from ONE Thai chili pepper!!

[100% organic, wild tuna]

For the Peanut Pickle

  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup peanuts

In a pot, bring all the ingredients to a boil and take off heat. Let it steep at room temperature, until cool. Then place in refrigerator.

*Chef Jasmine Shimoda’s recipe.

For the Dressing

  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 Thai chili, thinly sliced
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS baby lemongrass, finely minced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 TBS sesame oil

Mix everything together, infuse for 30 minutes, and set aside.

For the Tuna

  • ½ lb tuna
  • Salt & pepper

Season tuna with salt and pepper then sear for 10 seconds on each side.

For the Finish

  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber

Peel the cucumber and using a mandolin, slice into ⅛-inch rounds.

TO ASSEMBLE

Cut the tuna into cubes/rectangles and put them onto the cucumber slices. Drizzle some dressing over tuna, top with pickled peanuts and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Sushi Ceviche

I couldn’t come up with a better name than Sushi Ceviche because this is really a pure fusion plate of food. Using Japanese ingredients of a simple salmon avocado roll, but the cooking style of making ceviche.

[100% organic, Norway farmed salmon]

For the Sushi Rice

  • ¼ cup sushi rice
  • 1 TBS rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Soak the rice for ten minutes and cook the rice. Don’t over cook it because you want to see the individual grains. Cool the rice at room temperature and mix in the seasonings, then set aside.

For the Ceviche

  • ½ lb salmon
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cherry bomb pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced

Cut the salmon into medium dice. Thinly slice the red onion and pepper and set in a bowl. Add the lime juice and toss the salmon in it. Refrigerate and marinate for 10 minutes, depending on how thick/big/small your salmon pieces are.

For the Finish

  • 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ avocado, cut into wedges
  • ½ mango, diced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Nori sheet

Cut nori into thin strips. Toss avocado wedges in lemon juice, right before assembling.

Strain the ceviche, discard juices but reserve red onion and chili pepper slices.

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange cucumbers in a circular pattern on the plate. In a ring mold, pack the rice on the bottom, over the cucumbers. Place the avocado wedges along the rim and pack the ceviche into the center. Top with nori strips and scatter mango dice around plate.

*Adapted from From Buenos Aires to Paris.

Tuna Tartare with Pineapple Sauce

You know me, I love sashimi and any type of tartare. But I love this tartare recipe exceptionally well because of the pineapple sauce it pairs with it. I never got the recipe from Oceana directly but this is what I tasted when I had the pineapple sauce.

I served this as the appetizer to my 4-course dinner. I plated this as a smiley face.

[100% organic, wild tuna]

For the Garnish

  • 3 cucumbers, julienned
  • Salt
  • EVOO
  • Microgreens
  • 1 cup pineapple, small dice
  • 8 wonton wrappers
  • Sesame seeds, as needed
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. Cut the wonton wrappers in half diagonally and then again so you get four triangles from each piece. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Then sprinkle sesame seeds over wonton wrappers. Place in oven on a sheet tray for 4-6 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Put in an airtight container and set aside.

Peel the cucumbers and on a mandolin, julienne the flesh parts only. Do not julienne the core or seeds. Place in a container and set aside in the fridge.

For the Tartare

  • 9 oz. tuna
  • 2 pineapples
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely sliced
  • ½ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • Salt & black pepper
  • EVOO

Cut pineapples into small squares, reserve 1 cup for garnish. Reserve scraps, trimmings, and core for sauce and place in blender. Do not keep any flesh with the black bits.

Cut tuna into small dice and set aside, on an ice bath or in the fridge. The tuna and pineapple dice should be relatively similar in size and shape.

In a large mixing bowl, mix diced tuna, chopped pineapples, green chilis, basil, and cilantro. Do not season with salt nor add lime juice until ready to serve because the salt and lime juice will cook the fish. Set aside on an ice bath or place in the fridge.

For the Sauce

  • Pineapple scraps & trimmings
  • 1 tsp agar-agar
  • One 17 oz. sweet rice wine / mirin
  • Cayenne pepper

Place all non-black bits of pineapple scraps and trimmings in a blender, along with the agar-agar and rice wine. Blend until smooth. Pour everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a dash of cayenne pepper. The sauce should be sweet but have a kick at the end. Do not strain the sauce and cool it down immediately.

*Inspired by Oceana.

TO ASSEMBLE

Season the tuna tartare with salt, pepper, lime juice, and EVOO. Mix well and using a 2-inch ring mold, spoon tuna tartare into the mold, on the plate, half way up and press down to firmly pack it in. Season the julienned cucumber with salt and EVOO. Twirl the julienned cucumbers and place on top of the tuna, in the mold. Spoon cold pineapple sauce onto the plate and garnish with 1 tsp pineapple dice and microgreens. Remove ring mold, place two wonton chips in tartare and serve.

Soba Noodles with Shimeji Mushrooms in Hollowed Cucumbers

You have no idea how happy I am to be posting on my blog again. I feel like I’m on a roll! Four posts today, two yesterday! June was an insane month and the last two weeks have been extra chaotic. My final exam went very well and I was very happy with the professional judges’ critiques.

It’s so hot in New York and the heat wave is intense. This is a nice refreshing bite-size (or two) party plate. It’s so simple to make too! Aren’t my plates just adorable?

[100% organic]

For the Mushrooms

  • 1 package shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil

Roughly break apart the shimeji mushrooms into small florets/clumps.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté the mushrooms briefly until they develop some color and add in the shallots and garlic. Reduce heat to low-medium and season with some salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until tender.

Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Discard garlic cloves.

For the Cucumbers & Noodles

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 2 oz. soba noodles
  • 2 TBS rice vinegar
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced on the bias (green parts only)
  • White sesame seeds, as needed
  • Salt

Do not remove all the green skin of the cucumber; peel roughly around the cucumber. Cut cucumber into rounds around 1-1.5 inch thick. Using a melon baller, scoop out the seeds from the middle to create a “cup”. Be careful not to scoop too much and then creating a hole in the “cup”.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions, usually 6-8 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water, to stop the cooking process.

TO ASSEMBLE

Whisk the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour half the sauce over the noodles and save the rest for later. Add the scallions and mushrooms to the noodles and gently toss to mix everything together.

Pack each cucumber cup with noodles and mushrooms, drizzle ¼ tsp of remaining sauce over each cup, and garnish with white sesame seeds.

Optional: mandolin carrots to use as a place mat for the cucumbers to sit on and to give some more color. (I totally forgot to do this!!!)

*I made this for my birthday get-together.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Whenever I go back to Hong Kong/China, I always want a nice bowl, or two, of dongpo pork (东坡肉) after the jet lag wears off. It’s the best thing in the world, better than bacon! Dongpo pork is served in a little porcelain bowl with a lid.

I made these steamed buns with my family’s dongpo pork recipe and quick pickled cucumbers. I made this in class for part of the charcuterie buffet but it did not turn out good because I’ve never done mass quantity (buffet) servings before and I had to cook everything so far in advance, it was difficult to gauge. Also, the pork had to sit in the braising liquid for a week so it was really salty, even though I diluted it lots of water.

I wanted to make these because I wanted to prove to myself that I CAN make these taste heavenly. And I did. It just took one afternoon. I thought I could eat 6 or 7 (because that’s how many buns I steamed) but I could only stuff 5 into my face.

[100% organic]

For the Pork Belly

  • 2 lbs pork belly
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ cups Shaoxing/Chinese rice wine
  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • ½ cup dark soy sauce
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 1 piece cinnamon bark
  • 6 scallions, chopped into thirds
  • 3 thick slices fresh ginger
  • 2 TBS whole Sichuan peppercorns

In a heavy-based pot, add the sugar, Shaoxing wine, soy sauces, star anise, cinnamon, scallions, ginger, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, while you sear the pork belly.

Cut the pork belly into cubes or small rectangles. Tie tightly with butcher’s twine – the pork will shrink so make sure to tie them very tightly.

In a pan, heat some oil for searing. Sear each side of the pork belly and remove from pan. Place them into the pot and add water to cover pork belly. Bring to a boil and then lower to a low simmer. Simmer for 3-4 hours. Flip the pork every hour and add water if necessary (because you don’t want the soy sauces to over reduce and get really salty).

When ready, turn off heat. Remove pork pieces from braising solution and ladle some braising liquid over the pork belly pieces to prevent it from drying out.

Optional: skim off fat and reduce braising liquid, and add a slurry to thicken it, if you want to use it as a sauce.

For the Pickled Cucumbers

  • 1 English cucumber
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TBS salt
  • Salt, as needed

Slice the cucumber very thinly or use a mandoline. Sprinkle salt over the sliced cucumbers and let them drain for 15-20 minutes.

In a saucepan, boil all the ingredients and then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool over an ice bath. The pickling solution has to be cold before you put the cucumbers in.

Rinse the salt off the cucumbers and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Put the cucumbers in the pickling solution; they should be completely covered by the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Drain before serving.

*Adapted from Aquavit.

For the Steamed Buns

  • 1 TBS + 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups water, at room temperature
  • 4¼ cups bread flour
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • 3 TBS nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 TBS salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Rendered pork fat (for shaping the buns)

Combine the yeast and water in a bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and mix on the lowest speed possible for 8-10 minutes.

When the dough turns into a ball, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it, and cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Put it in a turned-off oven with a pilot light or other warmish place and let it rise until the dough doubles in size, for 1.5 hours.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total. They should be about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the little dough balls with plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.

Cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper. Dip chopstick with the rendered fat.

Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 4-inch-long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Stick it back under the plastic wrap and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30 to 45 minutes: they will rise a little.

Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. You can use the buns immediately or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a steamer for 2 to 3 minutes, until puffy, soft, and warmed all the way through.

*The steamed buns recipe makes around 50 and I know that’s a lot but you can always store them in the freezer and eat them with other things, like Peking Duck!!!

**Steamed Buns recipe from Momofuku’s Noodle Bar.

TO ASSEMBLE

Open each steamed bun and place 2-3 slices of pickled cucumbers on the bottom layer, place a slice of pork belly, and top with more slices of cucumbers, then close the bun. If using, serve with the braising sauce.

Steamed Bun (Baozi, 包子)