31 (Sun) January 2021
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
A couple weeks ago, as part of our on-again off-again now back on again cooking exchange, Number One Fan LJY and I engaged in a battle of lamb dishes (see 12.014 Battle: Lamb).
This time, we battled the duck.
This time, we invited (or accepted the self invitation of) Number One Swedish Fan GK – with whom I also have a Korean-Swedish cooking exchange (see most recently 12.020 Pasta and Salmon Pudding).
Having tried Peking/Beijing Duck in many restaurants in many cities, including Bejing, where it is in fact still referred to as “Peking Duck” in some restaurants (see 7.146 Peking Duck), I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about the dish, which never seems to be about the duck, more about the other stuff that goes around it.
And so, even though genuine Peking Duck is difficult (impossible?) to make at home, I thought that perhaps I could get away with pulling off a quickie-shortcut-ersatz-pseudo-faux-wannabe version so long as I had a passable wrap, proper toppings, and the critical sauce, the duck itself secondary.
It worked, at least in the get-away-with-it sense. The wraps were a bit floury in flavor but not too bad in texture – perhaps an additional few seconds grilled in a lightly greased pan would be an immense improvement. The toppings made for an excellent combination of taste and texture: soft sweetness of the cucumbers + sharpness chewiness of the scallions + woodsy crispiness of the golden enoki. The duck was okay, though the marinade and grilling left the meat devoid of much duck character. Ultimately, the hoisin brought it all together. The family was impressed.
I appreciate that I never would’ve attempted this, if not for the battle.
One regret, as far as the blog is concerned, I wish that I’d taken a better photo of the final dish.
Duck Breasts in Red Wine & Tomato Reduction
with Rosemary Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Broccolini
LJY: Overall assessment: I need to find a better recipe for crispier skin. And to season the breasts better with something other than salt/pepper to cut down on gamy flavor. But not bad.
2 Ducks – 2 Ways
GK: I bought both mallard and a “normal” duck. The thought behind that was to be able to compare the taste of the meats.
GK: I also thought it would be a good idea to cook both according to the North Korean recipe and according to a “normal” recipe. To give me/us more of an opportunity to compare I decided to cook four different/variations:
- The North Korean dish with mallard
- The North Korean dish with duck
- A “normal” dish, designed for mallard.
- The normal dish but the mallard replaced with duck.
GK: I should buy a fillet knife. Trying to get out the meat from the plucked birds was harder than I thought. Maybe it gets easier with experience though.
GK: I think I got in over my head with cooking four dishes at the same time. Plus an entreé (gambas pil pil) before that. I love to cook, but in this case I had to let my guests start eating while I continued with the cooking.
GK: It was much harder to tell the difference between the different types of animals with the stew, since the marinade took precedent (still, the marinade wasn’t that strong in any of its tastes).
One of my guests said the North Korean stew reminded him of the Swedish dish kalops, which is more or less a standard beef stew. Once again, I get the impression that the North’s cuisine is much less spicy and with less “differing” tastes for a Swede compared to cuisine in the South.
The recipe for mallard, which I found online, can be seen here: https://recept.viltmat.nu/recept/grasand-anglais/
It tells you to first fry the duck in the pan, the put it into an oven heated to 150 degrees, making sure the inner temperature doesn’t go over 50 degrees (with the help of an oven thermometer). It’s then served with amongst other things a root fruit purée and lingon (of course).
I think I will try to cook mallard according to the normal recipe again in a while. I messed up since I forgot to sear the mallard in the pan before putting it in the oven, giving it a pretty unpleasant texture, especially compared to the duck, which I did sear (slightly). I also made the mistake to remove the skin/fat from the mallard, while I kept it on the duck. I think that was the reason why I found the duck to be much juicer than the mallard, which felt slightly dry. It might also be the case that duck meat is fattier than mallard, or that I wasn’t fast enough to remove the mallard from the oven. Also the purée came out slightly too “watery.”
All in all, it was a fun experience! My guests said they liked all of the dishes. Looking forward to seeing the post.
Each of us at liberty to prepare duck in whatever way we wanted, the diversity of styles that emerged was remarkable. I went Chinese(ish). LJY went French(ish). And GK went North Korean(ish) and English(ish).
ESSENCE AWARD: As a duck challenge, LJY’s dish would seem to best highlight the natural essence of the bird, both in flavor and texture, enhanced by the sauce.
ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: GK, overachiever as ever, went all out, making 4 dishes from 2 different countries using 2 different types of duck. Quite possibly the first time in history that someone has cooked a North Korean duck dish in Sweden – from the recipe and finished photo, it would appear similar to a standard South Korean dak dori tang. Funny to think of pairing that dish with the other dish, especially the lingonberry jam. Fascinating that mallard is even available as a commercial item (though frankly, the thought of eating mallard – those green heads! – kinda creeps me out). About getting a filleting knife, I think that it is indeed an essential tool, though taking apart a whole bird just needs a small, sharp pointy knife (see for example 3.023 Pan-Fried Duck Breasts in Five-Spice Glaze with Shredded Leeks).
SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: At a practical level, I was very pleased to discover that the quickie-shortcut-ersatz-pseudo-faux-wannabe Peking Duck worked. I can definitely see future possibilities with other proteins, maybe chicken or even pork belly.
Anyway, we are all winners!
Up next, BATTLE: PIG’S BLOOD.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)