Vietnamese Duck, Blackberry and Grain Salad

Vietnamese Duck, Blackberry and Grain Salad

2-3 Servings

00:20 Prep

00:20 Cook

Moderate - You'll be right!

In this duck salad, luscious blackberries are paired with tender Vietnamese-style duck breast and dipping sauce, to create a healthy and delicious salad.

If you’re familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, you’ll know salads are not commonly consumed as a stand-alone meal in Vietnam as they are in other cultures. A typical Vietnamese salad is often served as a side dish to accompany a main (stir fry, or fried or braised meat), alongside a bowl of steamed Jasmine rice. They’re also served to compliment noodle soups or congee: the classic pairing of goi ga (chicken and cabbage salad) and chao (rice porridge or congee) is a great example.

However, as a born and bred Aussie, I’m a convert to our salad culture but still find myself craving the mouth-watering flavours of Vietnamese cuisine. This really took off when I moved out of home. As a result, this recipe represents my affinity for the Vietnamese flavour profile as I strive to make healthy decisions as an adult without compromising on the flavours that define my culture.

Lemongrass, garlic and chilli is a popular flavour combination in Vietnamese cuisine that I love. A versatile and aromatic trio that goes well with anything from chicken (Lemongrass chicken banh mi), beef (lemongrass beef noodle salad) and pork, to tofu, fish and duck. For this recipe, duck breast is marinated with these classic Vietnamese flavours and seasoned with fish sauce and anchovy salt to bring that savoury umami flavour partial to Vietnamese cuisine.

Blackberries are not typically grown in Vietnam, so they’re not a common ingredient you’ll find in traditional Vietnamese recipes. However, during Australian summers, they’re readily available and can be found in abundance in markets, grocers, or—where I’m from—hanging off the side of the road in the Adelaide Hills! I first came across blackberries as a child but only recently discovered wild blackberries whilst cycling in the Adelaide Hills on a warm summer morning and they’ve been an addiction since.

Sweetness is a critical element in Vietnamese cuisine to ascertain a balance of flavours, and the addition of blackberries does just that. You’ll find the natural sweetness and slight tartness in blackberries mimics the key flavours in the iconic Vietnamese sauce; nuoc mam cham (nuoc cham).

If blackberries are in season and duck is a game you desire, do yourself a favour and combine them with the flavours of lemongrass, garlic, chilli and fish sauce to create a salad for lunch or dinner on any given day.

Vietnamese Duck, Blackberry and Grain Salad
Vietnamese Duck, Blackberry and Grain Salad

Ingredients:

Marinated duck

  • 2 duck breasts

  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only) finely minced or 80

  • Lemongrass paste

  • ½ small red onion roughly chopped

  • 1 chili minced (optional)

  • 2 garlic clove minced

  • ½ teaspoon anchovy salt or sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 teaspoon premium fish sauce

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoons honey

 

Salad

  • 100g (½ cup) freekeh (alternatively use quinoa)

  • 250ml (1 cup) water

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • Pinch of cracked black pepper

  • 120g baby spinach

  • 1 beetroot julienned

  • 2 carrots grated

  • ½ small red onion thinly sliced

  • 1 punnet blackberries halved

  • 50g roasted almonds crushed

Salad dressing

  • 20g (small knob) ginger peeled

  • 1 red chilli de-seeded

  • 2 teaspoons premium fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or juice of one lime

  • 2 tablespoons warm water

  • 3 tablespoons water

Method:

  1. With a sharp knife score duck breast skin diagonally 6-8 times being careful not to cut through to the meat then marinate for 15 mins with all ingredients except honey.
    Duncan’s tip: for best results marinate overnight.

  2. Rinse freekeh and place in a small pot with 250ml water and a pinch of sea salt and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on very low for 35-40 mins or until water has evapourated and grains are tender (Alternatively cook quinoa according to packet instructions). Stir in EVOO and cracked black pepper and allow to cool before serving.

  3. To make the sauce, crush ginger and chilli in a mortar and pestle then add remaining ingredients and mix well until honey is dissolved and set aside

  4. In a medium oven-safe pan (preferably cast iron) place the duck skin side down in the cold pan. Cook on low-medium for 12-15 mins or until skin is well-rendered golden then into a pre-heated 180 degree oven for 5 mins for medium or 8 mins for well done. Remove from pan, baste skin with a ½ teaspoon of honey and allow to rest for 10 mins.
    Duncan’s tip: Have the duck at room temperature prior to frying to ensure the duck meat remains tender.

  5. In a large mixing bowl add baby spinach, beetroot, carrots, red onion and cooled freekeh and toss well.

  6. Pour in dressing and toss well then portion into two or three salad bowls. Slice duck and place on top and garnish with blackberries and crushed almonds.

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