I think most of us in the US would agree that peaches tend to be the heavyweight champions of stone fruit season. But if that’s indeed true, then I’d say that plums are the minor league champs, and deserve their day in the spotlight. And I for one get very excited when these underrated champs reach their peak high season! My local grocery store has them on full display, right there on the sidewalk, both black and red varieties looking proud, plump, and delicious.
I knew I wanted a savory application for the beauties, and thanks to me buying twice as many corn tortillas than I needed last weekend, tacos began to make a lot of sense. (Due to the excess of corn tortillas, we’ve actually been eating a LOT of tacos around here lately).
I must admit, I’ve never before warmed to the idea of “fusion tacos” – but, well, when you’re eating as many tacos as we have been lately, the idea starts sounding better and better. So that’s where Asian style duck tacos come into play. These are reminiscent of a Peking duck. They marinate in a basic Chinese style combination of garlic, ginger, soy, and hoisin.
The plums actually stand in for, rather than accompany, the traditional tomatoes used in pico de gallo, which gives the salsa a fruitier and very bright taste. Its texture is maybe *slightly* softer than traditional tomato-based pico. But the plums complemented the duck beautifully. I hope y’all will enjoy these!
Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark
1 large (1 lb.) duck breast, trimmed of excess skin and fat, patted dry
½ cup red wine (I used a pinot noir)
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 chile de arbol, crumbled or chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, sliced
¼ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Slight pinch of kosher salt
4-6 corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
PLUM PICO DE GALLO:
½ lb. ripe plums (can be red or black variety), pitted and diced
¼ cup finely diced fresh cilantro
¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 serrano chile, minced (seeded if you want the salsa to be less hot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sugar, optional
Kosher salt, to taste
Place the duck breast in a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. In a small mixing bowl, combine the red wine, soy sauce, hoisin, lime juice, peppercorns, garlic, cinnamon stick, chile de arbol, ginger, and onion. Pour over the duck breast and close the bag. Massage the bag so that the duck is completely coated in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Get the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking so it can come up to room temperature.
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and let it get as hot as it’s going to get before you start cooking the duck.
Meanwhile, remove the duck from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Using a VERY sharp paring knife, score the skin on the diagonal in one direction, then rotate the duck and score the skin on the diagonal going the other direction, so you have a cross hatch pattern all over the skin. Season very lightly with kosher salt. Place the duck in the cast-iron skillet, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crackly-crispy and the fat has rendered. This will take about 15 minutes total, and you may need to adjust the heat upwards or downwards, depending on how well the fat is rendering. You want it hot enough to do its thing but not hot enough to burn the duck or cook the inside meat too quickly. Periodically you will need to carefully remove the duck with tongs to a cutting board and drain off the rendered fat. If you don’t do this, you’ll be pseudo deep-frying the duck by the end and it will taste greasy.
Once the fat is rendered, flip the duck breast over and cook on the meat side until its internal temperature reads 130 F, about 10 more minutes. Remove the duck to a plate, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare the PLUM PICO DE GALLO: combine the plums, cilantro, red onion, garlic, mint, serrano chile, lime juice, sugar if using, and salt. Taste for seasoning, as you may need to add more salt. Adjust as necessary.
To assemble, place the duck on a clean cutting board and slice as thinly as possibly across on the diagonal. Place a few duck slices in each tortilla, then spoon on a helping of plum pico de gallo. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Serve the leftover pico de gallo with tortilla chips if you wish.