Duck Breast with Plum and Tamarind Sauce

To celebrate a fantastic holiday in the USA (which is also why I didn’t post much in September), I wanted to cook something a bit different to what we’d enjoyed in the States. In a “root around the pantry and find what’s available” moment, along with inspiration from fashion guru Gok Wan, some delicious duck breast with plum and tamarind sauce was served …

Duck with Plum and Tamarind Sauce

5 mins preparation
35-40 mins cooking
4 servings
Serve with
Egg noodles and pak choi
Wine match
Penner Ash Pinot Noir

Inspiration from Gok Wan

Yes, you read that correctly, Gok Wan. It turns out that the acclaimed fashion stylist, who tells us how to dress to impress, grew up learning Chinese cooking from his father, chef and restaurant owner Papa Wan. I watched his TV series a while ago and was inspired by the simplicity that Gok demonstrated in creating classic Chinese dishes. His easy to follow Gok Cooks Chinese book is excellent, I’ve cooked many recipes from it and highly recommend it.

The TV series is also available on DVD. I bought it and watched the episodes whilst making some of the dishes to get the techniques correct, including his plum sauce recipe. A bargain at £3.99.

Plums steaming in a saucepan

Duck breast frying to render out the fat


  • Skillet / frying pan
  • Large saucepan
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Measuring jugs and spoons
  • Spatula
  • Roasting tray and rack
  • Hand blender
  • Kitchen towel


Duck breast

  • 4 duck breast
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • 4 ripe plums
  • 1-3 tsp tamarind sauce (see below)
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 150ml water plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1-2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce

Tamarind can be very potent, so start with 1 tsp and taste the sauce as it’s being made. Also, I used tamarind sauce. One reader made this recipe using tamarind paste, this is much stronger than sauce. If you have paste, just use a very small amount, taste it and add a little more if necessary.


The timings and temperature below are for medium/pink duck. If you prefer your duck more cooked than this, leave it in the oven for longer.

  1. Pre-heat an oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Pat the duck breasts dry with kitchen towel. Score the duck breast skin in a cross pattern with a sharp knife. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides, rub into the breast. Set aside.
  3. Stone and chop the plums into small pieces. Finely chop the ginger.
  4. Warm the plum pieces in a large saucepan with 2 tbsp water for 1-2 mins until the water starts to steam. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Heat until the sauce is bubbling then reduce to simmer, taste and adjust ingredients to suit. Stir the sauce occasionally whilst preparing the rest of the meal, adding a little water if it is drying out.
  5. Place each duck breast skin-side down into a frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-6 mins to render the fat out. Remove the duck breasts from the pan and drain off the fat, then flip each breast over and cook for 2-3 mins skin side up.
  6. Transfer the duck breasts to the oven, cook for 12-15 mins, or until internal temperature has reached 54°C/130°F. Then remove and wrap each in silver foil, rest them for 10 further mins. Whilst the duck is resting, cook the egg noodles and pak choi.
  7. Take the sauce off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Combine the remaining ingredients with a hand blender to create the sauce.
  8. Slice the duck breast and drizzle over the sauce. Serve with egg noodles and pak choi.

Duck breast with plum and tamarind sauce, noodles and pak choi

Cooking with a Big Green Egg

To cook this in a Big Green Egg I used the PSWoo and spider with a half direct and half indirect setup using a half-moon ceramic plancha. Sear the duck breast in a cast iron skillet over the direct side, then transfer to the indirect side to complete the cook. The sauce was prepared in a kitchen.

Cooking duck breasts in the Big Green Egg

Hints, Tips and Pictures

  1. The fat drained from the duck breast after the sear can be reserved for roast potatoes.
  2. I added some Dizzy Pig Peking rub to the egg noodles for some extra flavour, it worked very well with the sauce.
    Peking noodles 640
  3. When using the hand blender, angle it slightly away from you to prevent any hot sauce flying up into your face. Not that this happened to me of course. 🙂
  4. There will probably be left over sauce. Store this in the fridge for further meals.

2 thoughts on “Duck Breast with Plum and Tamarind Sauce

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.