This salad has become one of the true favorites of Oceania’s Red Ginger restaurant and Chef Instructor Noelle Barille’s directions made this so easy. Duck confit can be purchased at Whole Foods and even Costco at times. The watermelon is the perfect texture and sweetness to balance the chewy duck confit.
Ingredients (serves 6)
Sweet Fish Sauce:
3/4 cup palm sugar, coarsely chopped (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup water
1/2 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, bulb portion only, coarsely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf
1/2 inch piece galangal, peeled and coarsely chopped (or substitute ginger)
1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
Duck & Watermelon Salad
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
6 confit duck legs
2 to 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
6 cups 1 inch cube seedless watermelon
1/2 cup Thai basil or sweet basil leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallot
For the Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the palm sugar and water, place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the shallot, lemongrass, lime leaf, and galangal and let sit at room temperature to cool and to infuse the flavors for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl. Discard the solids. Add 1 tablespoon each of the fish sauce and tamarind, mixing well. Taste and adjust with more fish sauce and tamarind, if needed. Set the sauce aside at room temperature.
For the Salad: Pour 4 inches of canola oil into a large, deep saucepan and heat to 325°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a small plate with paper towels for draining the cashews and line a larger plate for draining the duck.
Add the cashews to the hot oil and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt while hot.
Increase the temperature of the oil to 350°F. Add 2 duck legs to the hot oil and fry, turning to brown on all sides, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to the towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining duck legs in two batches.
When the duck legs are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin from each leg in as large a piece as possible. Bone the legs and shred the meat into a bowl. Season to taste with the hoisin sauce.
In a separate bowl, combine the watermelon, basil, mint, and cilantro. Add the duck meat, cashews, and shallot. Toss with enough of the sweet fish sauce to coat lightly. You may not need all of the sauce.
To Serve: Divide the salad among individual serving plates or martini glasses.