Prince of the Dawning Sky: a plated dish

This would have been my main course for the finale. Inspired by the sun-filled sky, and the morning, it is duck and mushroom congee with ponzu-black garlic puree, duck egg yolk, braised duck thigh meat, crispy shallots, cilantro duck fat, caramelized mushrooms, and micro cilantro to garnish. The idea has multiple folds behind the inspiration. Obviously, congee is a breakfast food, so that’s where part of the morning aspect comes in. The egg yolk represents the sun, while the black garlic puree represents the wisps of night that fade away when you break into the yolk and release those rays into the sky. The light is dispelling the darkness of the night by doing that, a representation of how I was when I had to overcome severe depression and anxiety after the whole coming out process and being bullied by assholes. Duck, being a flying bird(unlike chicken) is a no-brainer, besides being an Asian protein. Crispy shallots, well this is more of an inside joke, but everyone was obsessed with garnishing their dishes with those on the show(Shari unintentionally started a crispy shallot cult when we were all talking about our signature dishes and favorite garnishes LOL), but also, that ring shape allows for more negative space and air to flow through the dish, again, to tie in with the sky and air themes of the dish.

For the actual execution of this dish, if I had to make it in an hour, I would have busted out a total of two pressure cookers and a deep frier. The frier would be to roast my duck bones quickly, and then one pressure cooker would be for stock and braising my duck leg meat, while the other would be to pressure cook the bones with my rice and water, just to impart those flavors quickly. Luckily, you won’t have to make this recipe in an hour, and neither will I, so I am going got stick to the more traditional ways of cooking this dish(but yes, with the above life hacks, it can be made in an hour). Instead of doing an herb oil, I opted to just blanch, shock, and infuse the duck fat with cilantro instead, since we have plenty of it, and it might as well be used. The black garlic puree will be made by braising it down in ponzu, then pureeing it. The reason why I’m making a ponzu reduction sort of situation is because between the egg yolk, the duck fat, and the congee, something extremely acidic is needed to cut through all of the heaviness. After the duck meat is braised, it will be finished in a pan just to crisp it up.

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For the duck stock:
duck carcass and bones
5 cups of water

Roast the duck carcass and bones in a 400 degree F oven in pieces for at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a pot and simmer with water and salt for at least 45 minutes to extract as much flavor as possible before straining to remove any impurities.

For mushroom stock:
1 cup warm water
3 oz dried mushrooms

Rehydrate mushrooms in the water. Remove mushrooms and pass liquid through 2 cheesecloths to remove dirt. Reduce that liquid down to 1/4 cup.

For the duck thighs:
2 duck thighs and legs; skin and bones removed
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of duck stock
1 knob of ginger, sliced up
duck fat
1 shallot, diced
soy sauce

Sweat out your garlic, ginger, and shallot in the duck fat. Deglaze with soy then the stock, then add in your thigh and leg meat. Cook down for at least 1 hour before removing and shredding. Line a pan with more duck fat then crisp off the meat in there to finish.

For the congee:
3/4 cups duck stock
1/4 cup mushroom stock
1/4 cup short grain rice
a pinch of salt
chopped up re-hydrated dried mushrooms
1 knob of ginger, sliced up

Combine ingredients and bring to a simmer, lid on, for at least 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to guarantee that the rice will break up. Remove ginger pieces.

For the black garlic puree:
2 cloves of black garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Reduce ingredients together. Puree then pass through a sieve.

For the cilantro duck fat:
1 tablespoon duck fat
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Blanch and shock cilantro leaves. Puree with the duck fat and then season. Strain.

For the shallots:
1 shallot, shaved widthwise on a mandolin
ginger powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
vegetable oil (or duck fat!)

Dust shallots in seasoned cornstarch and deep fry at 350 degrees F for literally 10 seconds. Drain fat off on a towel and re-season to finish.

For the mushrooms:
Maitake mushrooms
duck fat

Roast off mushrooms in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Finish by searing off in a pan with duck fat, then season.

To garnish:
Duck egg yolk
Micro cilantro leaves

Start with the congee at the bottom. Add on your puree, then oil, then duck meat. Place the egg yolk in the center, and then top with your crispy fried shallots, and micro cilantro leaves.





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