Pan-roasted duck breast on lime leaf & peanut mash with mango dressing & roast tamarillo

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Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

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The flavours in this dish may appear quite sweet and sour, but in many ways they’re no more so than the classic duck à l’orange where the duck is roasted, then a sauce is made from orange juice, often an orange or mandarin liqueur, and sugar. Sweet and sour - but done in a French fashion. Tamarillos are what I grew up knowing as tree tomatoes but I think their name changed sometime in the late ’60s, as had happened to Chinese gooseberries (now known as kiwifruit). Several years ago, The Providores set up a restaurant in the wonderful London department store Selfridges during a promotion they ran called Body Craze. One of the people we worked with was from Bolivia and we got to talking about tamarillos which she said she’d never heard of. I said that was strange as I knew they originated in the South American Andes of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. She then realised that what I was talking about were in fact tomate de arbol, or tree tomatoes! If you can’t find any, then this works really well with roast nectarines, apricots or peaches. My mango dressing came out this amazing colour due to the fact that I used a delicious bright yellow Alphonso mango, but any ripe mango will give a lovely, rich sweetness to the dish.


  • 4 duck breasts - around 150-200 g each
  • 2 tamarillos
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 potatoes, peeled (700 g) and halved
  • 6 lime leaves (or use bashed lemongrass or sliced ginger)
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic, sliced
  • 50 g butter
  • ½ mango, peeled and the flesh removed from the pit
  • ½ thumb of ginger, thinly sliced against the grain
  • ¼ tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) lime juice
  • ¼ red chilli (more or less to taste)
  • tsp nam pla fish sauce
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) vegetable oil (use peanut or sunflower oil)
  • 60 g coarsely chopped roasted skinless peanuts (also delicious made with roasted hazelnuts)


Score the fat side of the duck breasts cross-hatch style. Don’t actually cut into the flesh of the breast, just the fatty skin layer on top. The closer the cross-hatch lines, the crisper your duck skin will become. Season the fat side lightly with salt, and the flesh side with freshly ground pepper. Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut the tamarillos in half lengthways and lay on a tray lined with baking parchment. Score the flesh with a small sharp knife cutting in towards the skin, but avoiding cutting through the skin. Sprinkle the sugar over them and drizzle with a little of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until they begin to resemble oven-roasted tomatoes, around an hour, then take from the oven and turn it off.

Place the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water with the lime leaves and garlic and bring to the boil, then cook on a rapid simmer until done. Drain then mash with the remaining olive oil and the butter and taste for seasoning, keep warm and to one side.

Place the mango, ginger, lime zest and juice, chilli, nam pla and vegetable oil into a blender - or use a stick blender - and pureée thoroughly to give you a smooth dressing. Taste for seasoning, adding extra nam pla or salt to taste.

To cook the duck, heat up a frying-pan that you can fit the breasts in easily, but not so large they get lost. Your pan will also need a lid. When the pan is smoking place the breasts in fat-side down - you won’t need any oil. Once they begin to sizzle, turn the heat down and cook for 5-8 minutes over a moderate heat until the skin becomes golden and the fat begins to render off them. I always place a slightly askew lid on the pan, don’t seal it, this stops the fat splattering over your stove. Once they’re properly coloured, take them from the pan and discard most of the fat - be careful as it’ll be hot. Return the breasts to the pan, this time with the skin-side facing up and put the lid tightly on. Cook over a moderate heat until the breasts have cooked to rare - around 3-4 minutes. If you like your duck cooked more then do so. Turn the heat off, make the lid askew again to stop the skin going soggy from the steam in the pan and rest for 5 minutes. At this point they will have become medium-rare.

Place the duck onto a warm plate and turn the heat in the pan back on. Add the peanuts to the pan juices and heat them up, stirring constantly, until any liquid has evaporated, then mix the mash in.

To Serve

Slice the duck against the grain. Spoon the mash onto your plates and lay the duck on top, place a tamarillo on top and drizzle the duck with the dressing. If you’ve some cress at hand then put that on as well.