Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shirataki Noodle Soup with Duck Breast

I recently saw one of those Food Network episodes of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" which looked like it was highlighting restaurants in New Orleans.  Emeril Lagasse was talking about a Vietnamese restaurant which served the best Pho Ga, which is a chicken noodle soup which is like the sister soup to the most traditional soup of Vietnam, Pho Bo.  Also known as beef noodle soup.  I loved hearing Emeril talking about how the soup just does something to you - it makes you feel good inside with all of its great flavors.  That show made me want to make some pho as soon as I could.
I love a great shrortcut for making pho because you can always add more flavor to a pretty good basic broth.  This beef pho broth has the flavors of the homemade pho that my mom makes.  Mom uses oxtail or beef shank to flavor her broth with fresh star anise, cinnamon, and ginger.  The broth simmers on low as the spices all release their flavor into the liquid.
But why settle for such simple poultry?  My favorite is Maple Leaf Farms White Pekin duck breast.  In a flavor test with my neighbors, I put up some D'Artagnan Fresh Magret against my favorite.  It was a 50/50 split.  I was so happy to find that Boulevard Bread Company on Kavanaugh was carrying the Maple Leaf Farms duck again!  They seemed to have been on a break there for a while.  Now if they would start carrying Napa Valley Shanghai marinade again, I would certainly be a regular there again!
I  made my own marinade for the duck with hoisin sauce, the juice of an entire meyer lemon, garlic, and fish sauce.  Fish sauce makes everything bolder and better.  There's also a balance of acid, sweet, and salt with the lemon, hoisin, and fish sauce.
Score the fat of the duck to help it melt away better, and to get the skin crisp.  Don't cut through the skin.  You can do a diamond pattern if you want.  One package of the Maple Leaf Farms duck contained 4 breasts.
After I cooked the duck breast to a perfect medium rare, I got about 10 slices out of each breast.  I removed the fat.  I know some people are really into duck fat.  I'm not into any fat.  I mean I am into good oils that are full of flavor.  I probably have 9 different oils in my pantry.  But I try to use as little as possible.  I'm currently researching if it's possible to recycle my oils after I've cooked with them.  If anyone does this, please email me!
This soup is usually made with fresh or dried rice noodles which come in angel hair or fettucine, but I used fettucine shirataki because I'm only cooking with shirataki noodles these days.  You can find them at Whole Foods or The Fresh Market in the refirgerator section, usually around the tofu.  They're made of tofu.  Healthy, lowfat, and nutritious.  If you're going to eat something, why not choose food that has healthy benefits for your body.  This dish is full of flavor with the added fresh herbs.  I added fresh mint, cilantro, and onions sprinkled with meyer lemon.  I have a whole bag of meyer lemons.  If you like spicy pho, add some red chili peppers.  Mom likes hers with bean sprouts! 

You can also add additional hoisin and chili garlic or sriracha if you'd like.  I read that Gwyneth Paltrow makes her own sriracha in her cookbook because a friend told her that it's full of chemicals.  I checked the label, and I did see two ingredients that seemed unfamiliar.  I may ask my mom to make me some!  And finally, for the duck pho, I added about a teaspoon of fish sauce straight from the bottle.  I add that to everything.

  • 1 Carton Pacific Beef Pho Broth
  • 1 Package Maple Leaf Farms duck breast
  • 1 8 oz. Package Shirataki Noodles
  • Marinade ingredients for duck:
    • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
    • Juice of 1 meyer lemon
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Herbs for flavor/garnish:
    • Fresh cilantro
    • Fresh mint
    • Red or white onion
    • Chili pepper
    • Thai Basil
  1. Score the duck breasts, add to a 1 quart Ziploc bag, and add marinade ingredients.  Squish the bag and move the breasts around to evenly distribute the marinade ingredients.  Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove the duck breast from the refrigerator for about 20 minutes prior to cooking.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In the meantime, pour the pho broth into a medium saucepan.  I actually use my medium enameled cast iron round Dutch oven for everything.  Heat it over medium, and let it simmer lightly.
  4. Remove the shirataki noodles from the package, rinse thoroughly, and drain well in a collander.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and add the duck breasts fat side down.  I saw Rachael Ray do this.  If you put the breasts in before the pan gets hot, there's less spattering!
  6. Once the pan gets hot, time the breasts in the pan for 6 minutes.  Check the fat.  If it looks good and browned, flip it.  Cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Line a pan with foil.  Remove the duck breasts to the pan, cook for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven.  Let rest for 10 minutes so that the juices all redistribute and they don't leak all over the cutting board when you cut them.
  8. Put half the noodles into each bowl.  Add the sliced meat of one duck breast, and add the hot broth.  Season if needed with fish sauce, hoisin, or chili garlic sauce.  Add your herbs, enjoy your big bowl of healthy comfort soup, and forget all your worries!
Currently Maple Leaf Farms has a contest for an original duck recipe, but you have to be a professional chef or culinary student to enter.  Will someone enter my recipe and split the earnings with me?  :)  I also make some great duck spring rolls!

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    1. Hi. Your recipe looks great going to try later this week. I use miracle noodle shirataki noodles. They are zero calorie and great tasting.

    2. Thanks! I'm glad you think it looks great, and I hope you enjoy it when you make it! Those shirataki noodles are the best!