Today is National Chop Stick Day. In our family, we have a chop stick tradition. It doesn’t matter if we are serving Chinese at home or eating out, that first bite is always with chop sticks. After that, forks and spoons and whatever else is fine. Hey, at least we make the effort.
Today is also National Lame Duck Day. Like most Americans, I think of Lame Duck as an outgoing administration. Maybe Lame Duck Day in February would have made more sense prior to the 20th Amendment that took affect in 1935. Prior to this Amendment, elections were held in November, and the “changing of the guard” didn’t happen until March 4th, when the newly elected administration was sworn into office.
Considering all the insanity that took place in Washington after this last Predental Election, can you imagine what might have taken place between November 20th and March 4th? What is even more insane is that prior to the 20th Amendment, there was a 13-month span between outgoing and incoming members of Congress. I cringe at the thought. Not because I am anxious for change but because I’m not sure this country could survive the division and discord on steroids that would surly follow.
No matter, we aren’t here for the politics. We are here for the food. In honor of Lame Duck Day, I give you Crisp Chinese Duck Breasts. In honor of Chop Stick Day, feel free to eat your duck with chop sticks. Hum, I think even a novice Chop Stick user like me can manage these delicious pieces of duck and vegetable noodles.
Crisp Chinese Duck Breasts with Vegetable Noodles
1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/4 cup Shaoxing Wine
1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
1 thumb Ginger
4 Garlic Cloves
Peel and slice the ginger, set aside. Peel and coarsely chop garlic, set aside.
Place Hoisin Sauce, Shaoxing Wine, Five Spice, ginger and garlic in a tall metal bowl. Using an immersion blender, blend marinade until the consistency of a runny paste.
Pour into a glass baking dish. Set aside.
4 (12 oz) Duck Breast Pieces
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Pat the duck pieces dry with paper towels. Place in the baking dish with the marinade, skin side up. Sprinkle salt on the skin. Marinate in room temperature at lease 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
To Cook: Heat oven to 425-degrees.
Just before cooking, remove duck from the marinade. Pat the breast dry with paper towels. Score the skin 1/2-inch apart to a diamond pattern without cutting the meat below.
Note: If necessary, sear duck in 2 batches.
Place the breast pieces skin-side down in a cold 12-inch heavy skillet such as a cast iron or other ovenproof skillet., Cook over medium heat, until skins gently sizzling. Reduce heat to medium-low heat. Cook until the skin turns golden brown, for another 10 to 12 minutes, flipping pieces over every 3 to 4 minutes. If the duck skin cooks too fast, turn to low heat. Transfer the cooked duck onto a plate and cook the second batch in the same method.
Arrange all the duck pieces in the pan, skin- side down. Transfer the skillet into the oven and bake for 8 minutes, until the skin turns dark brown. Flip to skin-side up and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the skin turns dark brown but not burnt. Transfer the duck onto a big plate, skin-side up. Allow to rest for 10 minutes without cover before carving.
Prepare the vegetable noodles while resting the duck.
Spiral Vegetable Noodles
1 Sweet Potato
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Plum Sauce
Peel sweet potato, spiral into noodles. Peel stripes into the zucchini, spiral into noodles. (Note: Vegetables can be cut into matchsticks if unable to spiral).
Transfer 1 tablespoon rendered duck fat into a large skillet. Cook the sweet potato first over medium heat until it’s tender. Add the zucchini and sprinkle with salt. Cook until the zucchini is just tender and the sweet potato has begun to caramelize. Transfer the vegetable noodles to individual plates.
To Serve: Slice the duck into thin slices and place on top of the vegetables, with plum sauce on the side.