The Duck Before the Turkey

Braised Duck Breast with Blueberry Ginger Sauce

Braised Duck Breast

Braised Duck Breast

Why food is so comforting to me is historical. At some critical point in my young life, I connected to food during perhaps a high-stress moment and it took off from there…

After dancing the “Barefoot Boogie” I was in the vicinity of a popular Asian market called H-Mart. It was 11 PM or close to that so I wondered if it was still open and if it were, perhaps I might enjoy a crowd-free shopping adventure.  And yes, it was open.  And yes, I had practically the entire store to myself.  I came upon this duck breast – though a bit pricy – looked ultra fresh, so I bought it.

Fresh duck is a rarity here in NYC, I often have to look high and low for it so it came into my orb unexpectedly with little effort on my part. Sometimes it’s nice when decisions are made for you.

After unpacking the breast, it was discouraging to find that there was so much more skin and fat than actual meat. I purchased 2.1 pounds and trimmed and tossed about ¾ pound of the duck skin ($18.99/pound for a total cost of $40.07!)!

Braised Duck Breast

Fresh duck in NYC — rare!

Braised Duck Breast

The breast after trimming some of the skin and fat.

Braised Duck Breast

Very fresh!

Duck is so worth it! It is easy to cook and always tastes good – as long as it’s fresh!

Then I had a pint of blueberries from a couple of days ago and thought that fruit goes so well with various meats like pork, chicken and duck. And blueberries with lemon and ginger – divine!

Braised Duck Breast

Some of the main ingredients. Fresh!

While there are more steps involved than you might normally expect from me, they’re easy steps and can be done ahead. Try it.  It will not disappoint!

Braised Duck Breast

Braised Duck Breast with Blueberry Ginger Sauce

Sauce
Ingredients

Pint of blueberries
1 1/2 C water
2 T sugar
1 T fresh ginger, minced
½ t lemon zest & ½ t lemon juice

Process: add all ingredients to a pot and cook for about 20-30 minutes until some thickening appears.  Allow to cool then puree in a blender and put through a sieve.  Set aside.

Duck
Ingredients

Duck breast – 1 ½ pounds, rinsed and dried
1 t dried ginger
1 T fresh ginger, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ t salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 t Zhenjiang Vinegar (black rice vinegar)

Process: mix all the marinade ingredients together then add to duck and allow to marinate for an hour or more.  In a heated, dry pan, add the duck, skin-side down.  Cover and allow to cook on low flame without turning over for about 12 minutes.  As grease from the duck fills the pan, remove it until the pan is almost dry.  Turn the duck and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes increasing heat.  To brown the skin, turn once more for another minute then remove from heat.  Serve with blueberry ginger sauce and salad or another side such as jasmine rice with peas.

Braised Duck Breast


Like Soy Sauce, Like Tempeh

Tempeh with Ginger and Toasted Sesame Seeds

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A few months ago I was immersed in vegan cooking since a vegan edition of my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were represented at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival.  That’s when I was introduced to tempeh.

I tasted an unforgettable “spicy tempeh” at the Jivamuktea Café and I recommend it to all who are in or near the area.  Service is great as well.  Not sure what spices were used in the dish all I know is I couldn’t stop eating it!

Just what is tempeh?  Simply, it is fermented soybeans.  The entire soybean is used in the making of tempeh and it contains a great deal of protein as do many items from the legume food group.  It is used in many vegan and vegetarian dishes and has some similarity to tofu only it is very firm and holds its form when cooked.  Like tofu, it takes on the flavors that it is cooked with and I cooked it with vibrant ginger root and red pepper flakes here.

Oh, by the way, soy sauce is another example of fermented soy.

Check the web or Wikipedia for more information about tempeh.

Here’s my attempt at a spicy tempeh dish that is quite tasty.

Tempeh with Ginger and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Ingredients:
8 oz package of tempeh
2 T sesame seeds (toasted)
lemon wedge
1 T fish sauce
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic minced
2 t minced ginger root
pinch salt
1 t red pepper flakes
2 T canola oil

Process: toast sesame seeds in a dry pan. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger in canola oil until softened. Add pepper flakes, fish sauce and salt. Add tempeh and cook for about 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon over the mixture then toss in sesame seeds. Remove from heat and serve.

Ginger Sesame Tempeh