Jul 7, 2011
Coming fresh out of June’s “Eat Local” Challenge, here’s a refreshing Thai-inspired salad that makes the most of some ingredients that are seasonal in Louisiana this month: Corn, tomato, and cucumber. (Also, green onion’s season is just about ending.) You can prep the vegetables a day before and refrigerate them until serving. In fact, everything in this recipe except the duck breast and cashews tastes better chilled. The final dish should have a nice contrast of cold and warm as well as spicy, sweet, salty, and sour.
- 1 pound duck breast (or steak of your choice)
- 2 ears of corn (yields about 1 heaping cup of kernels)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup cucumber, diced
- 4 tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup honey vinegar (or substitute 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar)
- 3 teaspoons fish sauce
- cayenne pepper
- white pepper
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (optional)
In a large pot, boil the corn until it’s just cooked. (Easiest way: Put it in a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Take the pot off the heat, and let it come back to room temperature.) When the corn is cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife and slice off the kernels.
Toss the corn, tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Refrigerate.
In another bowl, mix the vinegar and fish sauce. Refrigerate.
In a nonstick pan or an oven heated to 400°, toast the cashews, being careful not to burn them. Season them with a small amount of salt and set aside.
Season the duck breast with salt, cayenne pepper, and white pepper. (Use more cayenne pepper and less white pepper for spicier; use less cayenne and more white for milder.) Score the skin side, slicing through the skin but not through the flesh.
Pan-sear the duck breast by putting it skin-side down in a cold pan with just a little oil and then turning the heat to medium. Once the skin is crispy, turn it over, and cook the other side to your desired doneness. (I prefer medium-rare, which should be about 8 minutes on the skin side and 4 minutes on the other side.)
(If you’re using steak, just pan-sear it regularly by using medium-high heat, oil or butter, and cook the steak to desired doneness. Or grill it.)
Take the meat off the heat and let it rest for at least five minutes, ideally on a wire rack so the juices can drip off it.
While the meat rests, toss the vegetables with the vinegar and fish sauce, keeping in mind you might not need to use the entire bowl of sauce. Mix some in, taste it, and add more if needed. (Add salt and peppers if you like, but keep in mind you’ll be adding the spicy duck in as well as the optional salty cashews. This dish has a lot of flavor, so be careful not to make it unbearably over-seasoned.)
Slice the duck breast or steak at an angle and place on top of the vegetables. Garnish with the cashews and more cilantro and cucumber if desired.