This dish was inspired by my Aunt Frances’ roast Barbary duck. It is lovely and festive, and perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas if you are looking to serve something a little different. While I generally like to go fast and furious on the cooking side so I can have food on the table in minutes, this meal is rather special and worth taking some time and care over.
Kumquat honey is actually quite bitter and very strong tasting, so go easy! It is wonderful with heavy, rich meats like duck and other game. It is available from most Singapore supermarkets and you’ll find it next to the honey and Chinese citron honey drinks.
I found a great bag of organic mixed wild rice at Cold Storage, and I’ve definitely also seen this in other supermarkets around Singapore. Ideally it should be a mix of white, red, brown and whole wild rice (the black one). The different textures and nutty flavour works so well with the richness of the duck and soaks up a lot of juice. Since only a little bit of this is used in the stuffing, I make extra as a great show-stopping side.
The air-dried sausages are the traditional Cantonese lap-cheung (sweeter and red in colour), and mui kwai lap-cheung, which are marinated in Chinese rosé wine. They add a nice chewy texture and sweetish contrast and depth to the meal, together with crunchy toasted pine nuts and dried Chinese mushrooms. Cook the rice in a rice cooker together with the lap-cheung the day before and put in the fridge overnight. When stuffing the duck, only use a few spoonfuls inside the cavity, as there will be a lot of fat and if you over-stuff, the duck will not cook properly from the inside. Only a few tablespoons are needed to get the flavour. After the bird is cooked, you can remove the stuffing and mix it with the rest of the rice, to give it more flavour without so much oil.
For sides – besides the wild rice stuffing – I also roasted some potatoes, carrot, cabbage and baby pak choi in the oven, par-boiling the carrots and potatoes and finishing them off in the oven while the duck was resting. While the duck roasts, remember to keep draining the fat off and basting with the marinade. I got a large jar’s worth of fat, which I strained and kept in the fridge, to be used with fried eggs, roast potatoes or duck confit at a later date.
Roast five-spice duck with kumquat marmalade and wild rice stuffing
• 1 large duck
• 1 Star Anise
• 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce
• 3 tablespoons of honey
• 2 tablespoons of kumquat marmalade
• 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar (or 2 of mirin, and 1 of apple cider)
• 2 tablespoons of toasted pure sesame oil
• 1 heaped teaspoon of five-spice powder
Wild rice stuffing
• 4 cups of mixed wild rice
• 10 dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms
• 2 dried lap-cheung (Chinese dried sausage) of your choice
• 100 grams of pine nuts
• ½ onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery stalks, very finely diced
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 4 slices of ginger, finely chopped
• Oil for frying
• Chicken stock (optional), or water for cooking the rice
The day before
1. Wash and clean the duck. If it has the internal organs inside, remove and clean these and use them in the wild rice stuffing – sautéing then chopping them up. Pluck out any feather quills you can see. Place the duck in your clean sink and boil a kettle, before pouring the water over the duck and scalding on all sides. The skin will shrink immediately, making it look tight and taut… kind of like low-tech duck-Botox!
2. Place on a large rack over a tray, the right size to fit in your fridge. Carefully score the skin with a sharp knife. You only want to cut through the first layer and expose the fat, not the meat.
3. Mix the marinade ingredients and brush over the duck, and place the duck in the fridge overnight. Make sure to keep brushing on the marinade and turn the duck every now and again.
4. Wash and cook the rice with the lap-cheung in a rice cooker or large pot, using double the amount of liquid to rice. I used half chicken stock, half water. Leave to cool and refrigerate overnight.
5. Soak the Chinese mushrooms in a bowl of hot water overnight.
On the day
1. Brush more marinade over the duck; put the star anise inside the duck cavity and place in a hot oven at 190°C, breast side down. Cook for one hour, then turn and baste again. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for the rice. Finely chop the onions, garlic and ginger. Then remove stalks from the Chinese mushrooms and finely chop, squeezing any water out.
2. Take the lap-cheung out from the rice (which has been cooling in the fridge), and chop into very small cubes.
3. Heat a large wok and add a little oil, before adding the garlic, ginger and pine nuts. The pine nuts will toast quickly so add the lap cheung quickly too. Toss well, and then add the mushrooms. Fry for a minute or two, then add the onions and celery. Toss again for one minute.
4. Add the rice and stir-fry, mixing well, until the rice is cooked again – listen until it stops sizzling and crackling as that means the water has evaporated from the rice and it is cooked.
5. After an hour of roasting, remove the duck from the oven and stuff the cavity with a few tablespoons of the rice stuffing, then seal the cavity with sharp toothpicks. Turn the duck breast up and return to the rack in the oven. Depending on the size of your bird, roast for another 30-45 minutes, but keep a close eye on it at this point. The skin will be very dark brown or black – this is from the sugars in the honey and the five-spice powder and is totally normal. Check the duck breast every 15 minutes – it should be pink, not brown! When it is done, take it out and leave it to rest on the rack for 15 minutes before carving. Remove the rice from the cavity and mix with the rest of the wild rice. Put the stuffing into an ovenproof dish and leave to warm up again in the oven.
6. If you have a lot of oil, don’t throw it away! Put it in a clean jam jar and save it for roasting potatoes or vegetables. Keep any juices and marinade and turn them into delicious gravy with a little white wine. Keep the carcass to turn into a superb stock with some celery, carrots, onions and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
7. Serve the duck and rice stuffing, with stir-fried, or oven roasted veggies.