Crispy duck and watercress salad

Serves 6-8 as a starter
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I conjured this up as a tongue-in-cheek homage to the tourist dish that features on Chinese restaurant menus. It actually started its life using pork but quickly changed to duck when sales were low. Looking back, duck should have been the obvious choice to begin with, but I was still learning about the palates of our regulars.

Today it's the best-selling dish on The Ivy and Le Caprice menus and it's one of those dishes that gets tweaked a little every so often and will probably remain on the menu forever, along with fishcakes, shepherd's pie and hamburgers.

1 x 1.5 kg duck or 12 duck legs
Water to cover
3 star anise
1 head of garlic, roughly chopped
60g ginger, roughly chopped
20g coriander, stalks only, washed (keep the leaves for the salad)
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

For the duck sauce

4tbsp tomato ketchup
1tbsp honey
Juice of half an orange
1tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp sesame oil

For the soy and sesame dressing

2tsp soy sauce
2tsp rice vinegar
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A small piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1tbsp sesame oil
3tbsp vegetable or corn oil

For the salad

4 bunches of watercress, washed and thick stalks removed
110g white radish (mooli), peeled and cut into 1cm-wide ribbons
60g bean shoots, washed
1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and shredded on the angle
Oil for deep frying
The leaves from the coriander (see above)
1tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1-2 punnets of Asian sprouts or cresses, like shisho, mung, etc (optional)

Cover the duck with the water, add the herbs and spices and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove the duck from the stock and set it aside to cool. Skim the fat off the stock and use it as a base to make an Asian Soup.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the duck sauce, then whisk all of the ingredients together for the soy and sesame dressing .

To assemble the dish, remove duck from the bone, then cut into 1cm-thick slices. Pre-heat the oil for deep frying.

Arrange the watercress on the plates with the white radish, bean shoots and spring onion.

Fry the duck until crisp, then drain on some kitchen paper or in a colander and mix it with the duck sauce until it is nicely coated. Arrange it in piles on the salad and spoon over the dressing. Then scatter the coriander and sesame seeds over the top (and sprouts if you are using them) and serve immediately.

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