Japanese pan-roasted and marinated duck breast (Kamo ro-su)

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[Update: A couple of people emailed me about this, so I thought I would put it here unless others had the same question. Yes, this duck is meant to be served cold, as part of a cold appetizer or a salad. And yes it is that rare (though as I've written in the recipe you can poach it a bit longer until less pink.) It's like seared rare beef. And yes good duck is ok served rare.)

I had to make this beautifully easy duck breast dish three times over within a span of two weeks. The first two attempts disppeared before I could take a photo.

The original recipe is on the _Kyou no Ryouri_ (Japanese link) (Today's Cooking) website. They call it kamo ro-su, which means roast duck, but it isn't roasted in the sense that Westerners understand roasting. It's just pan-seared on both sides, then poached briefly, then allowed to marinate in the poaching liquid.

The original recipe uses red wine, mirin and a mere spoonful of brandy. I used about half a cup of the raisins and currents marinated in liquor that we still have a ton of, since the planned post-Christmas panettone I had planned didn't get made. The saltiness of the soy sauce, the sweetness from the dried fruit and mirin, and the beautiful booziness of the liquors really enhances the flavor of the dark duck meat. I've also adjusted the proportions of the marinade ingredients a bit.

This is one of those recipes that only takes minutes of your kitchen time but still tastes like you did a lot more, because most of the work is done as the duck marinates.

Recipe: Japanese-style poached and marinated duck breast (Kamo ro-su)

I've found that making 2 breasts at a time is easier than making just one, because there's more liquid to keep the breasts immersed. Halve the recipe for 1 breast.

  • 2 boneless plump duck breasts with the skin on (mine weighed in at around 450g / around a pound each)

The marinating liquid:

The garnish etc.

  • A little grated or reconstituted-powder wasabi or mustard
  • Green garnish (The original recipe calls for shungiku, which is impossible to get in Switzerland in January, so I used a little flatleaf parsley. Arugula (rucola) should work well too.)

Pierce the duck on the skin side several times with a sharp knife or skewer.

Heat up a frying pan with no oil in it. Put the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down, and fry until the skin is dark brown in color. Turn the breasts over and sear the non-skin side briefly.

Take the breasts out of the pan, and drain off the fat. Wipe the pan out with a paper towel. Pat the duck breasts a bit to get rid of excess surface fat.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the liquids and the raisins. Heat up until the liquid is boiling, then lower the heat until it's just bubbling slightly.

Add the duck breasts back into the pan. Poach for about 8 to 12 minutes (depending on how big your duck breasts are), turning over once about mid-way through. (Cook for a shorter time if you like it quite rare in the middle, as in the version shown here, and longer if you want it well done. Either way it's good!)

Take the duck breasts out, draining off the liquid. Put on a plate and cover with Saran wrap or aluminum foil. Leave for about 20 minutes to let the meat rest. It will continue to cook a bit from the residual heat.

In the meantime, put the poaching liquid into a non-reactive container (such as glass or ceramic) that you can close up tightly. I would not use a plastic container, because the marinade will stain and odorize it forever. Let the whole thing cool down, then put in the refrigerator. Leave until it's cold, for at least a couple of hours.

To serve, drain off a breast and slice as thinly as you can. Slicing it while it's still cold from the fridge makes this easier.

Drizzle a little of the marinade over it, plus a few of the raisins if you like. Optionally serve with a little wasabi. (Reconstituted wasabi powder is fine, though freshly grated is better of course.) Mustard works too.

Serve on its own, on a salad, or on noodles.

It will keep for several days in the refrigerator, immersed in the marinade. As time goes by the saltiness gets more pronounced and the boozy flavors fade.

If freezing, freeze in enough of the marinade to keep it moist, and defrost in the refrigerator.

This is quite rich, and a little goes a very long way. One breast should serve 2 to 4 people as part of a main course salad, and you can get 6 to 8 appetizer servings out of each breast.

About Kyou no Ryouri, the longest running cooking TV program ever (?)

Today's Cooking is a long-running cooking show on NHK in Japan. Last year they celebrated their 50th anniversay on air. Has any TV cooking program anywhere been on the air longer than that? I rather doubt it (though if you do know of one, let me know in the comments.)

The companion magazine is my favorite food magazine in any language. I have issues going all the way back to the '70s, when my mother used to subscribe to it. (The new baby sister magazine, _Kyou no Ryouri Beginaazu_ (Today's Cooking [for] Beginners) is also good.) I don't get to see the TV program because I can't justify paying 80 CHF per month for JSTV when the only program I'd probably watch on it would be Today's Cooking, but the website and the magazine keep me happy enough.

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