Peking Duck Nigiri Sushi

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I fell in love with sushi when I was about 11 years old. My family was preparing to move from South Africa to England and we went back to Taiwan to visit relatives before the relocation. It was at a sushi restaurant in Taipei near where my aunt lived that I first tried Sashimi (slices of raw fish) dipped in wasabi (blow-your-socks-off horseradish paste) and light soy. I remember my father telling me that I should hold my breath when eating this way, to avoid breathing in the wasabi which gives a burning pain between the eyes. It was quite a mind-blowing sensation – literally.

I didn’t realize at the time but the Taiwanese are mad about Japanese food. My great-grandparents could speak Mandarin (the national Chinese language), Taiwanese dialect and Japanese. This influence came about because Japan occupied Taiwan for 50 years up until 1945. I’m not sure that the occupation was an entirely happy one but I’m happy to see a fusion of the two cuisines.

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Preparation time: 15 minutes plus marinating
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole duck breast, skin on

For the Marinade

  • ¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

For the Sushi Rice

  • ¾ cup shortgrain sushi rice, washed until water runs clear
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 fine slices cucumber
  • 12 fine slices spring onion

Method

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Place the duck breast in a ziplock bag, pour over the marinade and leave to marinate for as long as possible, ideally overnight.
  2. Drain the marinade off the duck into a small pan and bring to the boil. This makes a fantastic dipping sauce.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Place the duck breast, skin side down, in a wok or pan (no oil), and cook for about 1 minute until golden brown then turn over and do the same to the underside. Place on a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes (the time can vary, depending on the size of the breast and how rare you prefer your meat). At this temperature, it will be well done.
  4. Meanwhile, put the rice and measured water in a medium pan with a tight-fitting lid. Boil the rice until only a little of the water covers the rice. Reduce the heat and leave the rice to simmer for about 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Mix the rest of the seasoning ingredients in a bowl, stir well, and pour into the rice mixing with a flat wooden spoon or spatula.
  6. Take a tablespoon of the sushi rice and make a small oval mound. Place a cucumber slice cut into the same size that fits on the top of the rice mound. Make 12 mounds.
  7. Remove the duck from the oven and let it stand for a few minutes. Then slice the breast horizontally in half to give two pieces of meat, one with skin, the other without. Then slice each half to give 12 equal pieces, 6 with the fatty skin, the other 6 will be lean pieces of meat. Pile the slices on top of the rice and cucumber and serve with the dipping sauce and slices of spring onion, distributing the lean and fatty duck portions among your guests.

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