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Chinese Five Spice Duck Breasts with Plums

An easy to cook dish, quicker to prepare than our more ambitious 'Crispy Aromatic Duck - Sichuan-style', but delicious none-the-less.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at - top-class dishes from beginners upwards


For 4 helpings:

4 Duck Breasts (Gressingham for a little less fat, Aylesbury-type for more crispness)
3 rounded teaspoons (15ml) Chinese Five Spice Powder – see
a large pinch of salt
4 Plums, de-stoned & quartered
3 rounded teaspoons (15ml) Red Currant Jelly
1 pint/500ml Red Wine
1 medium clove of Garlic, peeled , crushed slightly - but left whole
2 teaspoons (30ml) Sunflower or Vegetable Oil
Salt & freshly-ground Black Pepper to taste
½ teaspoon/7ml Cornflour (optional)


1. Cut slashes through the skin & fat of the duck breasts at ½in/1 cm intervals – being careful not to cut into the dark flesh.
2. Mix the ½ teaspoon of salt with the Chinese Five Spice Powder.
3. Rub 2 teaspoons of this over the duck skin, rubbing it well into the cuts - set them aside at room temperature if using, in the fridge if preparing ahead of time.
4. Put the red wine in a reaction-free saucepan (so stainless steel or glass, not aluminium). Add the remaining spice mix and the red currant jelly.
5. Bring this mixture gently to a simmer, then add your plum pieces. Continue to simmer for about 3-5 minutes – this will depend on the ripeness of you plums. When they are soft, but still retain their shape, remove the pan from the heat, and discard the garlic clove.

* Can be prepared ahead to this point.

6. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat.
7. When it is hot, add the duck breasts, skin-side-down. Fry for 6-8 minutes, turning down the heat if the pan starts to spit.
8. Turn the duck breasts over and cook for a further 3 minutes for pinish meat, a couple more if you prefer your meat a little more well done – but bare in mind, that the more well-done, the more the meat will shrink and thoughen.
9.When you are happy, take the duck out of the pan and place it skin-side up to rest for 5 minutes on a plate. This will allow the juices to set.
10. Meanwhile, gently reheat the sauce. If you prefer a little more thickness, blend a little in with the cornflour before reheating and stir as it heats.
11. Taste for salt and pepper – you may need none.

12. Slice the duck breasts and cover with the sauce.

Good served with a green vegetable, such as lightly steamed Bok Choy and perhaps plain boiled rice or a little fresh tagliatelle pasta.

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