Recipe: Andrew McConnell’s signature twice-cooked duck

"This is an interactive dish that requires some pre-thought, but is easy at the serving end of the process because your guests finish the preparation by constructing their own bao."

Supernormal, Melbourne – Serves 6

Plum Sauce (makes 1 litre)
500 g tinned blood plums, pips removed and liquid reserved
435 ml cider vinegar
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp cayenne pepper
5 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
220 g sugar

METHOD In a large stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all the ingredients, including the reserved blood plum liquid, but omitting the sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 1½ hours or until thickened.

Vinegar Sauce
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander root
2 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
2 tbsp water

METHOD To make the vinegar sauce, in a small bowl combine the ingredients.

Steamed Bread
450 g Rooster brand steamed bread mix
55 g caster sugar
250 ml milk
1 tsp grapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing
Plain flour for dusting

METHOD Combine the bread mix and sugar in a bowl. Slowly add the milk and oil mixing well to form a dough. Knead the dough on a floured work surface for 3-4 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 30-gram portions and roll each piece into a ball. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Dust a work surface with a little flour and roll out a piece of dough into an oval shape. Brush the piece of dough and fold it over to make a half-moon shaped bread pocket. Place it on a small square piece of greaseproof (waxed) paper and place in the refrigerator. When all the pieces of dough have been rolled and folded they can be left in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.
When ready to serve, bring a large saucepan of water fitted with a steamer to a rapid boil. Arrange the buns in a single layer on greaseproof paper in the steamer, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.

Duck Legs
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tbsp sea salt flakes
1.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced
6 duck legs
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp yellow bean paste
Plain flour for dusting

METHOD In a large bowl, combine the Sichuan pepper, five-spice, sea salt flakes, ginger and spring onion. Massage this curing mix into the duck legs, then store in a container and refrigerate for 12 hours. Once cured, wash the curing mix off the duck under cold water. Steam the duck legs over boiling water for 3 hours, topping the pot with extra water as necessary. Once cooked, place the duck legs on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate them overnight, leaving the legs uncovered so they can dry out.
When ready to serve, heat a large, heavy-based saucepan one-third full with oil to 190C. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce with the yellow bean paste. Remove steamed duck from the refrigerator and brush with mixture before dusting them lightly with flour. Deep-fry the duck legs for 4-5 minutes until dark golden, then drain on a paper towel.
to serve Peel and slice 1 cucumber into 5 mm rounds. Place the steamed bread on a platter, arrange the duck legs and cucumber rounds on another platter and serve with both the plum and vinegar sauces in small bowls to the side. At the table, advise customers to shred the meat from the bone and make up little buns with plum sauce, cucumber and the duck meat. The vinegar sauce is for dipping the stuffed bun into before eating.

Andrew McConnell is the director of the McConnell restaurant group, which operates Supernormal, Supernormal Canteen, Cumulus Inc., Cumulus Up, Cutler and Co., Builders Arms Hotel, Marion and Meatsmith. This recipe was first published in Supernormal, The Cookbook by Andrew McConnell.