Roasted Duck and Pomelo Salad

I know this photo sucks – my kids played with the camera and did something with the settings and I didn’t find out until after the food was eaten!

Roasted Duck and Pomelo Salad

from my column in Tampa Tribune

Two weeks ago, I took a trip to Los Angeles to teach a couple of cooking classes and to visit family. So, I thought it would be a great idea to bring both of my boys along with me since tickets were only $250 each round-trip for a direct flight from Tampa to Los Angeles.

It was a deal too good to pass up, as I’m a Wal-Mart shopper and easily wooed by a bargain. I wouldn’t normally buy tangerine-flavored fingernail polish, but if it’s on sale for 35 percent off? OMG. I cannot resist. Give me the entire lot of them.

So, when I saw that the airfare was practically half off, I quickly purchased the tickets, not really thinking of the consequences of spending five hours in a small, enclosed flying contraption with no easy access to reinforcements, aka husband, teachers or relatives. Tag team, FAIL.

Thank goodness for the rolling minibar and $3 Snickers. That newlywed couple in the next aisle going to Hawaii for their honeymoon? My money says they probably swore off having children for the next 11 years. Who knew that flying with kids would be such great birth control? Next time your teenager talks about sex, have ’em sit next to us on an airplane. Cheaper than an intervention or therapy.

We arrived safely, and after wading through the thick smog and maneuvering in traffic, all I wanted was to clear my body with a light, refreshing salad. Mom knew exactly what to fix to make us feel welcome at her home.

Pomelo is a Chinese grapefruit. The skin is thick, rather fibrous, but easily peeled away after scoring with a knife. Like a grapefruit, you don’t eat the membrane because it can be pretty bitter and tough. The flesh is firmer, the flavor more delicate. You can find pomelos at most Asian markets, though also look in your regular market too – they are yellow, bigger than a grapefruit and sometimes as big as a soccer ball!

To eat, score the thick skin with a sharp knife and peel away as you would an orange. Open up the pomelo and with your fingers, pry apart each segment, peeling the flesh away from the membrane and pith. For the recipe, you can substitute with grapefruit or orange.

OK, now let’s talk about one of my favorite foods in the world: roast duck. It’s a pain in the butt to make at home, mostly because it’s difficult to find fresh duck in supermarkets. But why bother when for $15, you can buy a whole, perfectly roasted duck at the Asian market. Its sweet, shiny, mahogany-colored skin is highly addictive. You’ll see it hanging whole, displayed in a glass case, and workers will chop it up Chinese-style for you to take home. Usually most stores will sell the duck either half or whole.

For this recipe, buy a half-duck, which will leave you with plenty of leftovers for midnight noshing. You can certainly substitute with a roast or grilled chicken.

This recipe is adapted from “Street Food in Vietnam,” by Michelle Lo (which is a great book, Andrea recommends it too. but Mom bought it in Hong Kong and I can’t find it on Amazon)

Awesome recipe – I’m tagging it as one of my favorites.

Roasted Duck and Pomelo Salad

1/2 small pomelo
1 cup cucumber slices
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
2 breasts of roasted duck, shredded
Handful of mint and Thai basil (or regular basil)
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped

2 tablespoons fish sauce
11/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
11/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons minced chilies (I omitted the chilies in my salad cuz the kids were also eating it)

Peel the pomelo, and remove all membrane from the pulp. Cut pulp into small sections. Toss pomelo with cucumber, cabbage and carrots, and place on large platter. Arrange shredded duck, mint and basil on platter. Top with chopped peanuts. Whisk dressing ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and serve alongside the salad platter.


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