The weather of a British summer can be mercurial to say the least, but when it comes to summer food, we should not let rain stand in the way of play. Most barbecue foods can be cooked indoors, and although you don't get the smoky aromas or the sun on your skin, with a decent cast iron griddle you will still get the requisite charring. Some dishes are best performed on the plate of a griddle anyway; so much so that I use mine on top of the barbecue grill. I thought I was alone in this preposterous practice until reading the work of Meathead Goldwyn. He uses the method regularly with cuts of meat (such as duck breast) that would create havoc by dripping fat onto the coals.
Some foods naturally lend themselves to the indoor griddle. Japanese food has a whole subsection known as teppanyaki, where the food is griddled at the table. There are also many other forms of Japanese grilling but as we are aiming for deliciousness, rather than cultural precision, let's go with a classic Japanese style teriyaki and some well-appointed side dishes.
Note that the marinade, whilst beautifully flavouring the meat, does have a tendency to precipitate blackening. Surprisingly the burnt edges seem to add to the overall flavours rather than rendering them inedible but if you prefer then you can omit the marinade and serve the sauce at the end. The cold salty, garlicky cucumber is a complete revelation.
The key to Japanese food seems to be the enhancement of natural flavours. Ginger, garlic and soy may seem like strong flavourings, but the abiding essence of the meal comes through with honest simplicity and respect for the ingredients.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
2 large duck breasts
for the marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
for the cucumber
1 large cucumber
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
for the salad
100 g soba noodles
100 g beansprouts
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
2 tbsp. soy sauce
- Score the skin of the duck breasts, diagonally in both directions.
- Mix together the ingredients for the marinade.
- If you want to marinade the meat, place the breasts in a plastic bag and add half of the marinade. Massage in and put in the fridge for at least an hour. Put the rest of the marinade in a small saucepan and set aside.
- Smash the cucumber with a rolling pin, until broken down into large chunks. Again, place in a plastic bag and massage in the salt with the garlic. Put in the fridge for an hour; it needs to be served ice cold.
- Cook the noodles for 5 minutes in boiling water, drain, and then rinse well until cold. They have a tendency to stick, so you may need to rinse again, washing with your hands, before tossing the salad.
- Toss the noodles with the remaining salad ingredients.
- Heat the griddle pan over a low to medium heat and add the duck breasts skin side down. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning regularly. When done, set aside to rest for 5 minutes whilst you finish the sauce and get organised to serve.
- Add the marinade from the duck breasts to the leftover marinade in the pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes for the sauce to turn syrupy.
- Serve the duck in thin slices with the sauce poured over the top, alongside the noodle salad and smashed cucumber.
Nutrition (per serving): 838 calories, 33.2g total fat, 8.9g saturated fat, 408mg cholesterol, 4147.9mg sodium, 35.5g carbohydrates, 8.9g sugar, 5.4g fibre, 84.4g protein, 7476IU vitamin a, 114.8mcg vitamin b12, 27.7mg vitamin b6, <1mg vitamin c, 0IU vitamin d, 13.5mg vitamin e, 1.1mcg vitamin k, 34.2mg calcium, 130.6mg iron, 202.1mg magnesium, 768.6mg potassium, 81.9mg zinc.
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