Sautéed Duck Breast with Ponzu Citrus Soy

Sautéed Duck Breast with Ponzu Citrus Soy


The final dish Chef Honma showed me how to cook when I visited him at EN Japanese Brasserie recently was this one, a customer favorite, his incredible sautéed duck breast. This dish demonstrates contemporary Japanese cooking at its best: Using Western techniques of sautéing to sear with direct radiant heat, then baking in the oven to finish with ambient heat, but sticking to tried and true Japanese flavor combinations that work perfectly together. In this case, we're talking duck breast, citrusy ponzu and grated daikon (daikon oroshi), a rich-bright-sharp triple whammy. Here's how he prepared the dish, very straightforward:

  • Preheat an oven-proof skillet over a high flame. Honma used a French carbon steel pan, my personal favorite. Also preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Score crosswise hash marks in the skin of a nice piece of boneless duck breast (thick, fatty skin and deliciously ruddy skin). This prevents the skin from shrinking when it sears and produces a lovely texture, to boot.
  • Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the breast
  • When the skillet is very hot, lightly rub the breast, skin side down, on the surface to release some duck fat
  • Now place the duck breast skin side down in the skillet. Sautee until it's nicely browned and the hash marks pop out (you'll see what I mean when you do this)
  • Flip the breast and sauté the meat side until it browns too
  • Now flip the breast again so the skin side is down and stick the skillet in the oven. Bake for 7 minutes, then flip the breast and bake for 7 minutes more.
  • Remove the breast and let it rest on a cutting board. Keep the fat in the skillet (lots of fat at this point) and place over high heat.
  • Add a mound of daikon oroshi to the duck fat and sautee together. Now squirt 3 or 4 teaspoons of ponzu sauce into the mixture, stirring until the liquid cooks down.
  • While that's happening, slice the duck, which will be rare, plate artfully and top with the ponzu-daikon oroshi, which gives off a heavenly citrus aroma. Garnish with "hari" cut scallions (like a "needle") and serve.

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