My husband was stuck working two 13-hour shifts in a row, so I decided to surprise him with a decadent duck dish because we don't eat duck very often! Making a perfectly seared duck breast may seem daunting, but if you go slowly, you'll get it right every time! The key is to lightly score the the fat in a cross hatch pattern, cutting the fat JUST to the edge of the flesh but not piercing the flesh in about 1 inch diagonal increments both directions. The next key is to put the duck, skin down, in a cold skillet and then turn the heat to medium or medium low, depending on your oven. You need time to render the fat, so if you turn the heat too high, you won't get the entire layer of fat rendered. The duck breast is ready to flip once the skin is completely browned all the way through – you should not see any white fat in the skin. After that, simply flip and cook until the breast reaches 135ºF for medium rare and voilà! You're done!
This dish combines earthy soba noodles in a light, mushroomy broth with plenty of added mushrooms and garlic chives. If you can't find garlic chives, you can replace with regular chives and minced garlic cloves to taste.
Finally, for a little kick, shallots are browned in oil and the remaining oil is combined with chili oil, two small garlic cloves, shichmi togarashi and salt to make a spicy oil that guests can drizzle over their noodles. This whole meal is simply divine!
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time to Make: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 magret duck breasts
6 cups mushroom stock (you can replace with vegetable stock or chicken stock)
1 teaspoon hondashi (omit if you can't find it!)
8 ounces soba noodles
1/3 cup neutral oil
1 large shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 teaspoon shichmi togarashi (optional)
16 ounces mixed mushrooms, I used a mix of shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch garlic chives (About 1 cup)
3 heads of baby bok choy
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare Ingredients: Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions and drain and rinse and transfer to a large bowl. While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the shallot. Slice the mushroom caps and discard the stems. Trim and finely chop the garlic chives. Trim the scallions and thinly slice. Carefully cut the bok choy heads in half lengthwise and rinse out any dirt. Pat the duck breasts dry and score the skin in a cross hatch pattern. Season with salt and pepper and leave at room temperature as you prepare the rest of the meal. Note: You should leave the duck breasts out no more than 30-45 minutes so that they aren't cold as you cook them.
Make the Broth: In a pot, add the 6 cups of mushroom stock and 1 teaspoon of hondashi. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer as you finish the rest of the recipe.
Prepare the Shallots: In a large skillet, heat the 1/3 cup oil over medium until hot, Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are browned and crispy all over, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary while cooking to keep them from burning. Transfer the shallots to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle a little salt on them. Transfer the oil in the skillet to a heat proof jar.
Make the Shallot Oil: In a food processor, combine the 2 garlic cloves, chili oil, and the reserved shallot cooking oil. Pulse until smooth. Stir in the togarashi if using and season with salt. Transfer to a small serving bowl and leave at room temperature.
Cook the Mushrooms: Heat a slick of olive oil in the same skillet you cooked the shallots in over medium high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring regularly until well browned, about 8 minutes. Add more oil as necessary if it seems to dry while you're cooking and reduce heat as necessary to keep them from burning. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the garlic chives and scallions and turn heat down to medium low and cook until tender and fragrant and tender, about 4-5 minutes.
Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the soba noodles and toss to combine everything. Cover with foil and keep warm.
Make the Duck Breasts: Gently lay the duck breasts, skin down, in a cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary until all the fat has rendered and the skin is well-browned. Flip and cook an additional 6-8 minutes or until the temperature reaches 135ºF (or your desired internal temperature!) Transfer the duck to a cutting board and rest for 5-10 minutes. After the duck has rested, thinly slice cross-wise.
Make the Bok Choy: Turn the duck fat in the skillet to medium high and add the bok choy, cut side down and cook without moving for 3-4 minutes. Cover and cook an additional minute or two to steam the tops of the bok choy. Remove from heat.
To Serve: Divide the soba noodles and mushrooms between bowls and ladle a bit of broth on top of the noodles. Arrange the sliced duck and bok choy on top of each bowl. Sprinkle the crispy shallots on top and serve with the spicy oil. Enjoy!
Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!