Pan Seared Duck Breast in a

Chinese duck dish

muscovy-duck-breast640x360Alfred Portale prepared these Muscovy Duck Breast with Chinese Spices for Julia Child on her classic show In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs.


  • For the Duck Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic-peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 2-inc h piece fresh ginger root peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 scallions trimmed and sliced into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 Thai chiles with seeds cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 dried Chinese black mushrooms softened in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 1 quart duck broth
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce or plain soy sauce
  • 1 pinch five spice powder
  • Salt
  • For the Vegetables:
  • 1 head of Napa cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 baby bok choy
  • 20 snow peas
  • For the Duck:
  • 4 Muscovy duck breasts
  • 3 tablespoons five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • For Serving:
  • 1 scallion cut at an extreme angle into very fine julienne, placed in ice water
  • 1/4 cup sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • Special Equipment Suggested:
  • 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Two 10-inch no-stick frying pans
  • Tongs
  • 4-quart sauce pan
  • Bowl of ice and water


  1. The Duck Sauce: Pour oil into 2-quart saucepan. When hot, add garlic, ginger, and scallions. Reduce heat to moderately low and cook slowly, stirring often. Wait one minute and then add chiles. Drain mushrooms, pat dry, cut stems and discard, and slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Add to saucepan after chiles have cooked for 1 minute. Cook mushrooms 6 to 8 minutes or until tender. Pour in duck stock, add remaining seasonings, and simmer until reduced by 1/3. The sauce should be richly flavored, well balanced and lightly thickened. Set aside and warm before serving.
  2. Browning the Napa Cabbage: While duck breasts are cooking, cut cabbage lengthwise and then cut each half into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Leave piece of the core attached to each wedge to hold it together. In frying pan over medium heat, pour in peanut oil. When hot, put in one layer of cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Let it brown lightly, and then turn over. Repeat with remaining cabbage.
  3. Cooking the Duck: Keep skin on the duck breasts, but trim any excess or fat. With a sharp knife, score skin of breast in a 3/8-inch crosshatch pattern. Season breasts with salt, pepper, and five spice powder, pressing seasonings onto the skin. Pour oil into sauté pan, and when hot, add breasts skin side down. Sauté over high heat for 5 minutes until skin is lightly browned. Turn and cook 5 minutes more, until meat is medium rare. Let breasts rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. Preparing the Bok Choy and Snow Peas: Drop bok choy into 3 quarts of salted boiling water for 4 minutes. In last 30 seconds, drop in snow peas. Drain and rapidly dip in and then out of ice water to stop cooking, but not to cool.
  5. To Assemble the Dish: Cut each breast on an angle into 1/2-inch wide slices. Carefully lift with knife blade and place on side of each dinner plate, fanning slices out. Form cabbage into a circle in center of each plate, snuggling it up to duck. Stand bok choy in center of cabbage, opening leaves slightly. Tuck snow peas into bok choy. Scatter scallion on top of vegetables and garnish with cilantro. Spoon sauce around the duck and plate. Serve immediately.

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