Feb 3, 2015

Thai Crispy Duck Salad

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
The salad is a fusion of Thai spices and flavors which pair together perfectly with the and French-style seared duck breast.

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Salads get a reputation for being boring, and quite honestly there are very few salads I can eat as my main meal. I love this salad though because the duck is crispy and melt-in-your-mouth tender, and it pairs so well with the crunchy apple and sweet pineapple.

The salad is a fusion of Thai spices and flavors which pair together perfectly with the and French-style seared duck breast. The recipe is inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Origin. I’ve been going there since I was in high school and I still order their crispy duck salad every time.

Thai Crispy Duck Salad

Cooking Duck Breast

The skin of the duck breast is cut into a cross hatch pattern so as it sears, the fat renders evenly and you wind up with a delicious crispy skin. I cook the duck on the stove in a pan rather than in the oven. Duck is an under-utilized meat by home cooks. It’s tender and delicious and can be found in more upscale local grocery stores pre-packaged. If not, ask your butcher if they carry duck breasts. I like D’artagnan brand if you can find it. Save the rendered duck fat for cooking smashed potatoes or fries, it has an incredible flavor! While I love this crispy duck breast you can also substitute confit duck legs.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Apple – Using a tart apples with crisp texture like Granny Smith in this recipe cuts contrasts with the tangy vinaigrette and rich duck breast.
  • Pineapple – Adding chunks of fresh pineapple to this salad add a sweet and fruity note that contrasts with the tart apples and spice from the chilies.
  • Thai bird’s eye chili –  Bird’s eye chilies or Thai chillies are small, pointy chili peppers that pack a punch. They add an intense heat with fruity flavor to dishes rating between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. They can sometimes be difficult to find, so I usually buy a large bag of them at my local Asian market. I store them in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. It’s actually easier to cut them when they are frozen.
  • Fish sauce – I love the funky umami flavor fish sauce adds to this salad dressing. The flavor comes from a process of fermenting fish over a long period of time.
  • Herbs – A combination of fresh herbs, cilantro and mint are combined with the romaine in this recipe.

How to Make Crispy Thai Duck Salad

For the dressing:

  1. Whisk the dressing. To make the dressing, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, dark brown sugar, Thai chilies, sesame oil and vegetable oil together in a small bowl, until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside.

For the crispy duck breast:

  1. Season duck. Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat skillet. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, do not add any oil to the skillet, plenty of fat will render off the duck as it cooks.
  3. Score the skin. Set duck breasts down on a cutting board, skin side up. (The skin side is the white, fatty side.) Using a sharp knife, gently score the skin crosswise in ½” intervals, being careful not to cut into the meat. Rotate the breast and score again, to make a crisscross pattern. This will help the fat to render as the duck cooks.
  4. Cook duck skin-side down. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the duck, skin side down in the skillet. Let the duck cook, untouched, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  5. Continue to cook the duck. Turn the duck over and sear the other side for 5 minutes. Turn it once more, skin side down, and sear for an additional 2 minutes. When you remove it, the skin should be crisp but the middle spongy but firm, cooked to a medium rare. (If you are using an instant read thermometer, cook to an internal temperature of 140°F).
  6. Rest the duck. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
  7. Slice the duck. Slice the duck into strips, cutting any large strips into bite size pieces if desired.

For the salad:

  1. Mix ingredients in a bowl. In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, apple, pineapple, red onion, green onion, carrot, cilantro and mint leaves. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. Toss with the dressing. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture and toss to combine.
  3. Divide among bowls. Divide the salad among bowls then sprinkle the cashews over the top.
  4. Top with duck. Top with pieces of the crispy duck breast and serve immediately.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this Thai crispy duck recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Thai Crispy Duck Salad

Print Pin
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice from about 4 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 packed teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 small Thai birdseye chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the duck:

  • 1 pound Pekin or Moulard boneless duck breasts
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 7 ounces romaine lettuce, chopped, about 4 cups
  • 1 medium green Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup diced fresh pineapple
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup whole roasted, unsalted cashews

Instructions:

For the dressing:

  • To make the dressing, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, dark brown sugar, Thai chilies, sesame oil and vegetable oil together in a small bowl, until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside.

For the duck:

  • Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, do not add any oil to the skillet, plenty of fat will render off the duck as it cooks.
  • Set duck breasts down on a cutting board, skin side up. (The skin side is the white, fatty side.) Using a sharp knife, gently score the skin crosswise in ½” intervals, being careful not to cut into the meat. Rotate the breast and score again, to make a crisscross pattern. This will help the fat to render as the duck cooks.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the duck, skin side down in the skillet. Let the duck cook, untouched, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the duck over and sear the other side for 5 minutes. Turn it once more, skin side down, and sear for an additional 2 minutes. When you remove it, the skin should be crisp but the middle spongy but firm, cooked to a medium rare. (If you are using an instant read thermometer, cook to an internal temperature of 140°F).
  • Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
  • Slice the duck into strips, cutting any large strips into bite size pieces if desired.

For the salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, apple, pineapple, red onion, green onion, carrot, cilantro and mint leaves. Refrigerate until needed.
  • When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture and toss to combine.
  • Divide the salad among bowls then sprinkle the cashews over the top.
  • Top with pieces of the crispy duck and serve immediately.

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Recipe and photos updated 3.18.21.

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    • Apologies, that is a typo! Should be 400 – thank you for calling it out. I have made the change in the recipe. Comments like this help me to give you the best recipes possible! Hope you enjoy.