thai crispy duck salad

Thai Crispy Duck Salad

Salads get a reputation for being boring, and honestly there are very few salads I can eat as my main meal. I love this salad though because the duck is crispy and melt-in-your-mouth tender, and it pairs so well with the crunchy apple and sweet pineapple. The salad is a fusion of Thai spices and flavors and French duck that pair together perfectly.

 

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from about 4 limes

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 (packed) teaspoons dark brown sugar

2 small Thai birdseye chilies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

 

For the duck:

1 pound Pekin or Moulard boneless duck breasts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

For the salad: 

7 ounces romaine lettuce, chopped, about 4 cups

1 medium green apple,cored and chopped

½ cup diced fresh pineapple

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/8 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

½ cup whole unsalted cashews

 

Instructions:

For the dressing:

To make the dressing, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, dark brown sugar, Thai chilies, sesame oil and vegetable oil together in a small bowl, until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside. 

 

For the duck: 

Season the duck breasts on both sides with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Place in a covered container and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to let the duck marinate.

Preheat the oven to 200°. Heat a large oven -proof skillet over medium heat, do not add any oil to the skillet, plenty of fat will render off the duck as it cooks.

Set duck breasts down on a cutting board, skin side up. (The skin side is the white, fatty side.) Using a sharp knife, gently score the skin crosswise in ¼” intervals, being careful not to cut into the meat. Rotate the breast and score again, to make a crisscross pattern. This will help the fat to render as the duck cooks. Place the pieces of duck, skin side down in the heated skillet. Set a timer for 5 minutes and let the duck cook, untouched. Once the timer goes off, use tongs to look at the skin, it should be golden brown and crisp. At this point there should be a good amount of fat in the skillet, if there is a lot gently hold the duck with tongs and pour some of the fat out into a metal bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to the heat and turn the duck over; sear the other side for two minutes. Turn it once more, skin side down, and sear for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven, and let the duck roast for about 5 minutes, so that when you remove it, the skin is crisp but the middle feels spongy but firm, cooked medium rare. If you are using an instant read thermometer, cook to an internal temperature of 140°. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest on a cutting board. Slice the duck into strips, cutting any large strips into bite size pieces. 

 

For the salad: 

In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, apple, pineapple, red onion, green onion, carrot, cilantro and mint leaves. Refrigerate until needed. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture and toss to combine.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cashews and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 

 

To serve: Divide the salad among bowls then sprinkle the cashews over the top. Top with pieces of the crispy duck. Serve immediately. 

 

Serves 2 as an entrée salad.

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