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Nigella Lawson's Gingery-Hot Duck Salad--Fit for a Goddess!

Posted Dec 04 2009 12:00am

This week our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Goddess Goodies"--those foods that make us feel good, that nurture, delight and sustain us. We were supposed to channel our inner goddess to come up with one of Nigella's recipes that our inner goddess (or "IG"), would like. My inner goddess has not been too happy with me lately since I drastically cut down on the sugar and dairy consumption for awhile to see if it would improve my breathing, so I decide to have a conversation with her and see if we could find a recipe we agreed on. It went a little something like this:

Me: "Hey IG, we need a "Goddess Goodies" recipe for IHCC, what should we make?"
IG: "Chocolate!"
Me: "No, remember we are cutting down on sugar. How about a salad?"
IG: "How about chocolate?"
Me: "I know--how about this salmon and shitake one?"
IG: "Or we could make something chocolate!" (IG has a one-track mind!)
Me: "This noodle soup looks good!"
IG: "Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!"
Me: "Wait! What about this salad that's topped with lots of nice rich gingery slices of hot succulent duck!?"
IG: "That will work!"

So my inner goddess and I got it worked out and selected Nigella's Gingery-Hot Duck Salad, from " ." It is in the "Temple Foods" section, so named because as Nigella says,"It's my term for the soothing, pure, would-be restorative food I make for myself after one binge or late night too many. "Temple" as in "my body is a..." Well mine's not but this is what I eat when I want to feel it is. And don't think--as if--I'm counseling deprivation or restraint, but rather the holy glow of self-indulgently virtuous pleasure...." Works for me! This is a dish with good balance--some nice greens and a low-fat citrus dressing for me and some nice, meaty decadent duck for IG. I wanted to take the duck skin off to save a little fat but IG put her foot down and we ended up leaving the skin on. I guess if you are going to go duck, you have to go all the way! I did make a couple of additions / changes, noted in red below.


Nigella says: "I don't buy into this anti-meat drive. Indeed, I am vehemently pro- protein. Nor am I fat-phobic, so I tend to leave the fatty layer of skin on the duck breast before I griddle (or fry) it, but remove it, before cooking, by all means if you have succumbed to the lure of the lean. And if that's the case, you'll pleased to learn that not one drop of oil need go into the dressing. However, I often sprinkle a little toasted sesame oil over at the end, which is why I've still listed it in the ingredients. Your call. The salad itself is a slight reworking of a Cambodian beef salad I often make; here the lime juice in the steeping-mixture (which turns into the dressing) is supplemented with orange juice (Asian evocations of duck a l'orange and all that), but in season, around January, use instead of this combination, the fragrantly acerbic juice of one Seville orange."

Gingery-Hot Duck Salad
Nigella Bites, Nigella Lawson
(Serves 2)

1 duck breast
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 lime, juiced (I used a whole small lime)
1/2 orange, juiced (or 1 Seville orange)
1 small red chile, finely diced (I used 1/2 tsp of sambal oelek)
1/2 piece fresh ginger, grated
Sesame oil, few drops (optional)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) baby spinach, watercress, lamb's lettuce or a mixture (Note: I used about 3 cups total of a mix of watercress and baby spinach--so about 1 1/2 cups per serving)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium-high heat. Cook duck breast, fat side down, if not removed, for 10 to 12 minutes flipping with tongs, until it is lightly pink inside. Remove from skillet or griddle and place on cutting board, allowing meat to rest. While the duck is resting, begin the dressing.

In a medium bowl, mix fish sauce, lime juice, orange juice, red chile, grated ginger, and sesame oil. Stir using a spoon. Take baby spinach and lay across a decorative plate. Slice duck breast on a diagonal into thin slices. Place the juice from the cutting board and the duck slices into the dressing. Toss the duck slices in the dressing using your hands or tongs. Place the duck and dressing on top of spinach. Top with orange zest and serve immediately.


Notes/Results: Absolutely delicious! I think this may be my favorite Nigella recipe so far. The salad is the perfect combination of flavors--salty, sweet, tangy, spicy and nutty from the sesame oil. I realized I forgot to buy a red chili so I substituted with with some sambal oelek (chili paste) which worked just fine. Although they are not listed in the recipe, Nigella shows the salad with scallions on top so I added them and then I also added about 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds for some sweetness and a bit of color and they were a great pairing with the duck. I served the salad with whole grain baguette and half made a filling dinner. (BTW on the recipe it says 50 g or 1/4 cup of spinach or arugula which did not seem near enough so I ended up with about 3 cups combined or about 1 1/2 cups of the greens per serving). Both my inner goddess and I were happy and content with this one, the other half of this salad will be lunch tomorrow and my inner goddess has suggested we make it again this weekend. (I even let her have a square of dark chocolate with sea salt as dessert!) ;-) I will definitely make this again. Note--if you are not a duck person still do try the dressing as it is delicious--marinate some tofu in it or use a grilled chicken breast and you'll still have a wonderfully flavorful dish.

So what foods / dishes does your inner god or goddess crave? ;-)

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