There’s so many things at the Asian supermarket that I can’t find anywhere else. There’s slender long beans, mounds of my favorite chiles, all the cabbage you could ask for, quail eggs, pork bellies, and chicken feet for stocks—and that’s just the fresh section. The spice aisle is unbelievably stocked, the pickles are amazing. Every kind of tea I could wish for. And the frozen section offers a selection of very good dumplings.
Every time Jim and I go there, we leave happy, laughing, and sated from all the samples. The prepared foods section is cheap and tasty—with all kinds of snacks to try. One of our favorites is the barbecued meats. The goods are on display in a moist-heat glass case; ribs, chicken, and duck for you to bring home chopped up or whole. Because the meat stays at it’s utmost moistest when bought whole, and because I’m becoming a bit of a snob when it comes to butchering my own poultry, we bought a whole duck—beak and all—and scurried home for an Asian supermarket-inspired pasta.
More and more, I’ve begun taking my cooking cues from the places I shop. This may be the result of learning more about cooking, or maybe it’s because I moved to a town where I can buy almost everything local from small-farms (as long as I’m always willing to take what I can get), but whatever the reason, it’s been working out pretty great. We’ve been eating fabulously—grilled whole fish wrapped in bacon, lots of squash, homemade stewing-hen stocks—and many of the meals have been planned organically. Maybe I’ll have a recipe in mind, read in a magazine lately, or maybe I’ll go completely wild and make the whole thing up, but it often goes that I buy what I see out and then go home and use whatever’s in the pantry to supplement. This pasta was just that.
We had carrots and garlic and all the makings for an Asian-inspired sauce, so we cut up the duck, blanched some vegetables, boiled some fresh pasta, and threw everything together in a wok. It was quick and easy but undeniably complex-tasting. The black vinegar in the pasta’s sauce was punchy (to me it smells like coca-cola) and held up against the rich duck and creamy pasta. The vegetables made for a full, fresh meal. Drizzled with sriracha, the lingering heat was warm and comforting against the cold winds knocking about the windows. We snuggled up and ate our fill, and eagerly began plans for our next trip back to the market.
Asian-style Pasta with Duck
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (preferably Chinkiang)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For the pasta:
- 1 pound fresh linguine or spaghetti
- 1 whole barbecued duck, store-bought
- 1 bunch long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces*
- 2 cups shanghia pak choy, or baby boy choy, ends cut off and leaves separated
- 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- small handful of mint leaves, chopped
- lime juice and zest, to taste
Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until tender, 2-5 minutes.
Blanch the carrots and choy in boiling water for 2 minutes, transfer to a plate. Blanch the long beans in the same water for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Drain.
In a large wok, render the fat from the reserved pieces of duck skin. Remove the skin and discard. Add
Take the skin off of the duck breasts and legs, reserving a few pieces. Tear the meat into bite-sized pieces (this is a messy job, so do it over a large cutting board.) Discard carcass.
Using a few pieces of the duck skin, render the fat in a large wok. Add vegetables and duck pieces and cook for 1 minute. Add pasta and sauce and cook for a few more minutes, until everything is fragrant and hot. Add scallions and cook 1 minute more.
Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro, mint, and lime zest and juice to taste. Toss everything together and serve with sriracha.
*You can substitute regular green beans for the long beans.