Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Chinese New Year 2014 - The Year of the Horse, Roast Duck and Melon Salad with Champagne

This year the Chinese New Year begins on 31st January and is the Year of the Horse. There are several traditional foods that are served over the Chinese New Year to celebrate and to bring luck. Duck symbolises happiness and fidelity and is also a popular dish at Chinese wedding banquets. As the Lantern Festival (the Chinese Valentine's Day which marks the end of the New Year celebrations) falls on Saint Valentine's Day on 14th February this year I thought a duck recipe would be rather appropriate!

Roast Duck and Melon Salad

1 fresh duck (about 2kg / 4 lb)
1 ripe melon (you can use different melons if you want a more colourful salad, eg watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew)


2 tbsp salted soya beans (mashed)
4 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp Light Soy sauce
½ tsp Dark Soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Sweet and Sour sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
red food colouring

For Blanching

2 litres water
1 cup Chinese Rice vinegar
1 cup Chinese Rice wine
2 large lemons (or limes), sliced
3 tbsp honey


4 tbsp Plum sauce
3 tbsp light Salad oil
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 cup melon juice

Wash the duck and pat dry with kitchen towels. Mix the seasoning ingredients in a bowl and then put inside the duck cavities. Close the duck cavities with skewers.

Bring the blanching ingredients to the boil in a large pan. Hold the duck firmly in one hand and use the other to ladle the liquid over the duck for about 1 minute. Rub the duck with red food colouring. Hang the duck up in an airy space for at least 2 hours to dry the skin thoroughly.

When the duck is dry, put it into a hot oven and roast for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Before serving, debone the duck and cut it into slices.

Slice open the melon and discard the seeds. Carve out melon balls using a scoop. Blend the remainder of the melon flesh to make your melon juice. Combine the rest of the sauce ingredients, stirring to mix well.

To serve, arrange the duck slices and melon balls on a plate and pour over the sauce.

Wine Pairing

As for what wine is suitable to celebrate the Chinese New Year, well it has to be Champagne, of course! Why not try a Grower Champagne such as Champagne Morel Pere et Fils? Unlike major brands (Mumm, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot etc) who buy in their grapes, Grower Champagnes are made by independent producers who own their own vineyards, grow their own grapes and make their own champagne. Champagne Morel's vineyards lie over 18 acres on the chalky limestone slopes of the Laigne valley.

Although perfect as an aperitif or a toast, Champagne Morel is also very versatile with food, pairing with salty and savoury appetizers, spicy curries, seafood, fish, poultry, cold cuts and salamis, creamy pastas and desserts.

Champagne Morel is a superb Champagne, sophisticated and refined with a fine, long lasting mousse of bubbles. It's very well balanced, combining richness with elegance and is aromatic with generous flavours of dried apricot, toasted brioche and lime blossom with delicate hints of red berries, lemon and spice.


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