The October long weekend always feels to me like an aperitif for summer. Most often it is the beginning of lovely warm weather before summer gets really hot. The days feel languid, the jasmine is out, and the kids have already started racing around barefoot. A chance to kick back for a few days and take it easy before we dive headlong into the frantic dash towards Christmas.
This salad is a delicious option for a hot lazy day. Spare yourself the oven time and get a cooked duck from your local Chinese BBQ shop (or order one from a local Chinese restaurant). Tinned lychees (drained) are a nice addition to this salad as well. If you are up early and feel like it, make the chilli and capsicum jam dressing, or you can make it ahead and keep in the fridge. If not, get some plum sauce from the Chinese barbecue duck shop and put it into a basic vinaigrette (white wine vinegar and oil) for a little bit of spice and sweetness for the duck. Make sure you get the shop to chop your duck for you as well - days like these are not to be wasted with poultry shears and a cleaver!
BBQ Duck Salad with Chilli and Capsicum Jam Dressing
adapted from Notebook Magazine Feb 2007
2 lebanese cucumbers shaved into long strips with a vegetable peeler, seeds discarded
4 cups torn lettuce (I used cos but whatever you have is OK)
1 generous handful mint leaves
1 generous handful coriander leaves
2 finely shredded kaffir lime leaves
1 Chinese BBQ duck, chopped
Garnish - garlic chives
Chilli and Capsicum Jam
2 red capsicums quartered and seeded
4 shallots finely chopped
1 ripe tomoato finely chopped
1 tbs finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbs rice wine vinegar (available at Asian grocery stores)
1/2 cup grated palm sugar
4 long fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbs fish sauce
For the chilli and capsicum jam, preheat grill on high. Cook capsicums skin side up until they are blackened and blistered. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, caover with foil, and set aside for 5 minutes. Once cooled a little, remove the skin (this should come off easily) and chop finely.
Combine capsicum, shallot, tomato, ginger, garlic, vinegar, palm sugar and chilli, and cook over medium low heat for 20 mins or until thick and syrupy, with mushy vegetables. Remove from the heat and add lime juice and fish sauce. The jam should have the classic Thai balance of sweet, sour, hot and salty flavours. If you feel it is too chunky, give it a quick whiz with an immersion / stab blender.
Combine cucumber, lettuce and herbs in a large bowl. Add 2 tbsp of the jam and toss gently. Place on a serving platter, topped with the duck. Drizzle this dish with a little more chilli jam. Garnish with kaffir lime leaves or garlic chives and serve.