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Chinese Style Duck - However You Like It

Duck is considered a bit of a delicacy in the UK - like partridge, they're not shot all that often. That's why if you are lucky enough to get a bird you want to ensure you cook it to perfection with the best recipe you can. It is universally accepted that Chinese style duck is the best way to enjoy your shot - the flavours marry so well with the meat, and you're sure to have a meal that everyone will enjoy. Besides, it's a heck of a lot easier than doing a roast duck with all the trimmings!

It's your lucky day today - I am gracing you with not one, but two duck recipes! They follow a pretty similar base of flavours, you can just choose which direction to go in.

First up, the king of duck meals - crispy duck pancakes and plum sauce. This is a real crowd pleaser, kids and adults alike will keep coming back for more. Begin with your freshly shot ducks - I use about 1 breast per person so you can multiply for however many you are cooking for. Before doing anything, ensure you remove the ball bearings from the ducks. After a bite into roast duck last year I unfortunately got the shot too and the chip in my tooth continues to tell the tale. Cover the breasts in a mix of five spice and honey - for 4 breasts about 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons will suffice. In an oven heated to 180 degrees put the breasts in a roasting tray and roast for half an hour. Once out, allow to rest and the meat will easily shred after 10 minutes or so. Make sure you keep the skin and shred that too, it adds a great flavour and texture to the meat. While thats in the oven, get started on your sauce. About 2 plums per person, 25mls of agave syrup, a sprinkling of five spice and ½ tablespoon of soy sauce. Add all to a pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the plums are soft and thickly combined with the other ingredients. Blend and set aside.

Now, you can make the pancakes yourself, but a local chinese supermarket will sell them very cheap and they are very good. In my opinion, theyre not worth making. However, if you feel yourself being called to make the pancakes from scratch then by all means do, there are plenty of good recipes online. To assemble your pancakes, spread a little plum sauce and top with duck, spring onion and cucumber. Roll up and watch them disappear!

Next, we have a more sophisticated meal of duck and noodles. Once again, use about a breast per person. Once you have ensured there's no metal left in the bird, take the breasts off the birds, keeping the skin on. Score the duck skin like you would pork in a hashtag motion and rub a generous amount of five spice into the skin, as well as the other side. Season with salt and pepper, and place into a medium high heat pan skin side down - a good heavy one will work best. You don't need any oil as the duck fat will render down quickly. After a few minutes turn the breasts over and brown the other side, about a minute will do. Place into an oven at about 180 degrees to ensure the meat is cooked through for a few minutes - more than five and you can make the meat tougher. Once out, allow to rest.While in the oven and resting, you can crack on with the rest of your meal. I like to let the duck shine through, and so keep the rest of the recipe pretty simple. Noodles (egg are best) seem to be the best accompaniment, but rice would also work well. Just cook your noodles as per the instructions. For the sauce, I am partial to a honey and soy dressing - super simple and super easy. Mix equal amounts honey and soy sauce in a sauce pan and mix until hot and combined with some black pepper on top, adding a little sesame oil before they go in.. A little garlic would also work well. A lot of traditional duck recipes use fruit in the sauce - be it orange, cherry or redcurrant. These are generally made with fruit, sugar, a little vinegar and a good glug of wine or fruit juice, boiled down to a syrupy consistency. Finally, slice up your duck breast into 1 inch slices and place atop your noodles. I like to finely slice some cucumber, spring onion and red chillies on top, and then dress with the sauce. Enjoy!

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