I’m not normally one of those people that enjoys mixing fruits in with savoury things. Finding a grape in a salad sends a shiver down my spine and even a raisin in some otherwise delicious cous cous is cause for concern in my book.
I’ve only very recently come around to the combination of melon and Parma ham, I realise I am extremely late to the party but its a combination that is surprisingly good!
So, given what I have told you, the idea of mixing duck and dates seems pretty obtuse. But let me assure you it’s a dream combination. Move over ‘bread and butter’, we’ve got a new hot couple in town…duck and date.
I’ve been eating lots of dates recently and as well as their amazing sweetness which can satisfy a sweet craving in no time, it’s also their chewy, sticky texture that I seem to have fallen under the spell of. In this dish, they cut through the richness of the duck and the crunch from the sesame seeds transforms these from normal levels of deliciousness to the sublime.
The strange thing I’ve found is that usually you would serve one duck breast per person, if you were serving it whole, however when the duck is diced, you don’t actually need one per person, so the meat goes a lot further. That’s a thrifty little tip for you, not in a stingy way, it’s just one of those things.
- 4 duck breasts
- 1 thumb of ginger - grated
- Good slug of soy sauce - about 20ml
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- Generous squirt of honey
- 10 pitted medjool dates
- 100g sesame seeds
- 5 skewers, wooden or metal
- 1⁄4 cup of basmati rice per person
- Large handful of chopped coriander
- 500g pak choi, chopped
- 200g soya beans or edamame beans
- Simply pull the skin off the duck breast and then cut into cubes. You want to end up with at least 25 cubes, but you don't want the cubes to be too gigantic - so cut them a sensible size and then if you have left over duck, they make perfect seconds. Now pop these into a bowl and douse in the soy sauce, a generous gulp of olive oil. Add the grated ginger and the crushed garlic and leave to marinate. The longer it marinates for, the better, so if you want you can do this the night before, but I've left it for just an hour and it's still great!
- Now prep your dates. They should already be pitted, so they just need cutting in half. Slice them around their tummies, where their belts would be, if dates wore trousers that needed to be held up....
- Then roll the dates in the sesame seeds so they are coated in a lovely nutty crust.
- When you are ready to eat, turn the grill on and then place a rack over a baking tray covered in tin foil.
- It's now time to assemble your skewers. Rinse the skewers under the tap and then threads on 4 pieces of date and five cubes of duck alternately onto each skewer.
- Sprinkle the skewers with the remaining sesame seeds and pop them under the grill for about 10- 12 minutes. You want the duck to be lovely and crispy on the outside but still beautifully pink in the middle.
- Whilst the duck is under the grill you can put your rice on to cook and stir fry the pak choi and the edamame beans until they are tender and the pak choi has wilted but still has a little crunch. Add a generous slug of soy sauce and a little sweet chilli towards the end. Taste to see if it needs more. Once the rice is cooked, stir through a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper, then stir through all but a small handful of the chopped coriander.
- Sprinkle the remaining coriander onto the skewers to make them look pretty and then serve the skewers along side the greens and the coriander rice with a bowl of sweet chilli sauce. This is such a lovely dish to have in your repetoire - easy enough to do at home for family, but special enough to make for friends coming over. An absolute winner!