Cuisine Fiend

sweet and sour duck with duck scratchings


Sweet and sour stir fried duck

I once witnessed a lady at the butcher’s buy chicken fillets and asking to have the skin removed. My eyes popped and I must have given her a furtive once-over to detect some serious disability i.e. lack of limbs for instance. No - she was perfectly healthy but apparently unable to take skin off a chicken fillet.

Chicken FILLET. Not a whole bird. A fillet which basically has the skin attached to it by sheer will power and you can strip it off more deftly than a lady in Spearmint Rhino removes her garb.

I mean - seriously? This is the country where 30 million people obsessively watch cookery programmes. Where food images and videos reign on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, effectively competing with porn. Where people spend an hour a week poring over food websites and blogs. Where telly chefs are instantly recognisable - unlike, let’s say, politicians.

But only one Brit in ten ever has a go at trying out a dish off the telly in their kitchens - and they don’t know how to skin a chicken fillet. That’s why the most frequent combination to ‘recipe’ when entered into Google search is the word ‘easy’.

This is not easy - you will need to remove the skin off the duck fillet. But you just might manage, and there’s bound to be a YouTube demo somewhere. The veg need slicing and you can struggle to find a sharp knife at home - so you may decide to buy a pack of ready-sliced stir fry veg.  But if you do find that knife, pull that skin off the duck and heat up that wok, fearless of it being smoking hot - you’re in for a feast. Just like on the telly.

sweet and sour duck with duck scratchings


  • Feeds two people, or a very hungry one
  • 1 duck breast
  • salt
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • For the stir fry:
  • 2 tbsp. groundnut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 bird’s eye chili, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 red and 1 orange pepper
  • 1 small pineapple
  • 1 courgette
  • ½ bunch of spring onions
Duck stir fry ingredients


Pull the skin off the duck fillet and reserve. Slice the duck into 1 ½ cm pieces.

Duck filletMix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the duck and stir to coat. Mix the sauce ingredients in a cup.

Prepare the vegetables for the stir fry, core and deseed the peppers and cut them in 2cm chunks. Trim the courgette, halve it lengthwise and chop into 2cm pieces. Trim the spring onions and chop into 4cm sticks.

Pineapple, peppers and scallions

To make the duck scratchings, put a skillet or a non-stick pan over medium heat. Rub the duck skin with salt and place it in the pan, skin down, to render the fat and crispen the skin. Drain the fat at least once during the operation. Weigh the duck skin down with a smaller pan halfway through, to help it get crisp. When it’s dark and all the fat has melted drain the skin on a paper towel. Slice thinly when it cools a little.

Heat a wok until smoking, add the groundnut oil and then the duck with the marinade; stir fry for a minute and return to the bowl. Turn the heat down a little, add the garlic, ginger, chili and the peppercorns to the wok and stir around until the flavours are released (Sichuan peppercorns are really pungent!). Add all the vegetables except the spring onions and stir fry for about 5-7 minutes until they start to colour. Add the onions and stir fry for another minute.

Stir fry in a wok

Turn the heat up and return the duck to the wok, with all the juices. Add the sauce and stir it in thoroughly. When it’s absorbed, divide the stir fry between serving plates or bowls and sprinkle the scratchings on top.

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