Whenever I’m putting together a dish, I’m usually led by whatever protein I decide to work with, and everything flows from there. However, on this particular occasion I was inspired by a particular ingredient, Japanese curry. On a recent trip to Napa, a close friend of mine visited Whole Spice at the Oxbow Public Market, and surprised me with a treasure trove of spices and specialty salts! Harissa, zahtar, vadouvan, zhug, Herbes de’ Provence, Alderwood smoked sea salt… what can I say, I have great friends. As a West Indian I’m always partial to anything curry, so naturally I decided to experiment with that one first. There were subtle differences between West Indian and Japanese curries that I was able to discern right away. While West Indian curry is quite pungent, the Japanese blend is more delicate, yet still aromatic with nice citrus notes. I figured it would go nicely with duck, paired with a light salad with a bit of acid to balance off the richness of the dish.
2 boneless skin-on duck breast
½ pound of baby arugula (washed)
1 tbsp. of unsalted butter
1” piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 medium lemon
Parmigiano Reggiano (finely chopped)
Japanese curry powder
Fresh ground black pepper
The How To…
Drizzle duck with olive oil and season with curry powder (1 tsp.), garlic (½ tsp.), ginger (¼ tsp.), salt, and pepper. Add butter and place duck skin side down in a cast iron skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Cook, without flipping, until fat is rendered and skin is crisp, 6–7 minutes.
Flip duck; reduce to medium and cook until browned and to desired doneness, about 4-5 minutes for medium rare or until an instant-read thermometer Inserted into the thickest part of the duck reads 130°.
Transfer duck to a cutting board; let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing on an angle.
In a large salad or mixing bowl, combine arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano (¼ cup), and the zest of an entire medium lemon.
In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil (¼ cup), balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp.), juice from ½ the lemon, and minced garlic (1 tsp.), until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad, toss and serve.