A weekday wonder: Chinese five-spice duck with ginger rice.

Where have I been?

Where have I been, indeed. Well, other than sitting around with a glass of wine in one hand and twiddling a pen idly in the other (whilst simultaneously practicing zero discipline in the realms of setting time aside to do some writing), I have been putting into motion some very big changes.

First and foremost was the decision to completely alter my career path. Having centred the past few years of my professional life on Corporate Account Management, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to move towards a role that carries a greater emphasis on my all-encompassing love of food. Furthermore, I wished to rejoin the industry that I feel so passionate about and within which I feel most comfortable.

And so I did.

I am now a proud employee in the head office of one of London’s leading restaurant groups. Everything old is new again.

Needless to say, I am over the moon. Waking up each morning to put in the hours for a company I have always wanted to work for in a job I genuinely enjoy is all I could have hoped for in my London venture. In fact, have never been less lazy when it comes to earning my keep.

It hasn’t all been a walk in Hyde Park: new routines send my tendency towards obsessive compulsiveness into overdrive; I am beyond annoyed that I am rarely home in time to watch The Millionaire Matchmaker…and with both The Swede and myself collectively putting in our daily rounds, it has become increasingly difficult to dish out those elaborate mid-week dinners that I love so much.

Do I let that defeat me? Of course not. I have become a master of our Sky TV recording function and creating weekday wonders for the dining table has become somewhat of an ongoing work in progress. As for my obsessive compulsion? That is something I just have to live with. I learnt long ago that no amount of coffee, chewing gum or wine is ever going to calm that beast.

So here is one such fast and fresh recipe that I am super excited to share. I think this predominantly comes down to the fact that up until this point I avidly avoided playing with duck at home in my kitchen for fear I would overcook it and give all our non-existent house guests a reason to point and laugh at my inadequacies when it comes to poultry.

However, I must say that this approach appears to be fool-proof. I even took the liberty to undertake several test runs this week, both with and without wine consumption (you know, for control purposes). Most importantly, it is easy to whip up after work of an evening. And it is just.so.delicious.

Chinese Five-Spice Duck Breast with Ginger Rice
Serves 2

For the Duck
2 high-welfare duck breasts, fat scored
2 tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tbsp sea salt

For the Rice
1 cups basmati rice, rinsed under cold running water
4 spring onions, white part thinly sliced and greens cut into 5cm lengths
1 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
2 star anise
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 handfuls shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, large ones halved
4 baby bok choy, trimmed and halved

To Serve (Optional)*
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha hot sauce
Crispy shallots

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Rub the five-spice salt mixture into the skin and flesh of the duck breasts and place in a cold, dry frying pan skin-side down over medium high heat. Cook until skin is golden and the fat is rendered (10-12 minutes). Turn and then place in the oven and roast until golden and cooked through (8-10 minutes). Cover with foil and set aside to rest (5 minutes).

Meanwhile, place the Basmati rice, spring onion whites, ginger, soy sauce, star anise and two cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and leave it alone for exactly five minutes. Quickly remove lid and scatter  the bok choy, spring onion greens and shiitake mushrooms over the rice before covering tightly once again. Remove from the heat and allow it to sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Thickly slice the duck and serve with the rice and suggested condiments.

*I used whatever condiments I had in my Asian-centric fridge and I happened to love these ones especially with this dish. Feel free to pick-and-mix.

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