I’ve been watching lots of The Chefs’ Line on Netflix lately. In one episode, the task was to prepare Zhangcha duck. I was intrigued by how uncomplicated it seemed to smoke meat at home and decided to give it a go.
Remove silver skin and excess fat from a duck breast. Score the fat (just the fat!) and rub the breast with salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and Sichuan pepper. Allow to marinate for at least six hours. Line a pan with four layers of foil. Spread a handful rice, a good pinch of tea leaves, brown sugar and Sichuan pepper as well as some cinnamon sticks and whole cloves on the foil and cover with another layer of foil. Place the meat on a steaming rack on top of the foil. Cover the pan and transfer to a hot stove. Once the smoke gets going, lower the heat and smoke on medium heat for 15 minutes. Rest for an intenser flavor. Sear right before serving.
Simmer plum halves until tender but still al dente. Taste with tamarind paste.
Serve thin slices of duck with plum compote. Decorate with baby leaves and blossom of mint, lemon balm, arugula and wood-sorrel.