Vietnamese-spiced smoked duck breast

Looking for something different for a BBQ? Discover how fragrant spices such as star anise and cinnamon add rich flavours to smoked duck meat.

First published in 2015
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Now that the sun is making more of an appearance, you may be thinking of getting your barbecue back in action. If you have a charcoal barbecue with a cover, you can hot smoke meat, fish and even vegetables (root vegetables are particularly good for smoking in a barbecue). Low and slow cooking is the key.

Gentle heat, some woodchips and cooking for a few hours to allow the smoke permeate the food.

Here is a recipe we made for an Indochine themed supperclub last year. We added some Vietnamese spices to some duck breast fillets. Fragrant star anise and cassia, some chilli and herbs add rich flavours to the meat, and a soft woody smoke flavour infuses into the duck as it cooks.

You want the fat to drain away, which can be done by slashing the skin and fat to allow it to drain out as the duck cooks.

The smoked duck is very versatile – it's best served with stir fried rice and noodles, or in a salad. You could of course go totally Vietnamese and add it to a banh mi baguette.

For this recipe, you will need 2-3 handfuls of wood chips - check the manufacturer’s guide. Hickory or cherry wood works well. You will also need a charcoal barbecue with a cover and ideally with adjustable temperature (Weber and Big Green Egg both produce suitable barbecues).





Grind the star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns in a spice mill. Chop the chilli and coriander and combine with the ground spices in a medium plastic tub
Add the fish sauce, soy, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and stir to make a thin paste. Add the sea salt. Slash the skin and fat of the duck breast fillets, without cutting into the meat, at 2cm intervals
Rub the marinade over the duck and place in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least an hour
Whilst the duck is marinating, soak the woodchips in water for at least 30 minutes (or according to the manufacturer instructions)
Heat up the barbecue to a low medium heat, around 100°C
Drain the woodchips and put them onto the coal. Put the duck breast in an ovenproof dish and smoke for 2 hours or until the duck is fully cooked. Carefully remove from the cooking dish, discarding the fat
At the low cooking temperatures used in this recipe, the skin may not crisp up that much, so you can always finish it off under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to sear and crisp it
First published in 2015
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Nazima is a freelance food writer.

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