Fast Favourites
Farzana Romine Weekend

I like to do new experiments with food all the time, but there are a few recipes which I love so much that I repeat them whenever I get the chance. These two are my family's favourite recipes and I have cooked them countless times. These are very fast and easy to cook too.

  • Chinese five spiced duck 
  • Perfect fried rice 

Chinese five spiced duck
You need only four main ingredients to make this dish and it takes only 20 minutes to cook.

2 duck breasts
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp honey

Score the duck on the skin side lightly and pat dry with a paper towel. While scoring, make sure to not go all the way in to the meat. Scoring the skin helps the fat to render out fast when cooking.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper and five spice powder generously on both sides of the duck.
Put the duck in a cold pan (skin side down) and sear over medium heat. Let all the fat render out slowly. With a spoon keep skimming the fat from the pan. (Don't throw away the fat. It is great for roasting potatoes. You can store the fat in the freezer). It will take about 6 to 8 minutes for all the fat to render out. The skin will become dark brown and crispy.
Once it turns dark brown, flip the duck over and add the soy sauce and honey. Glaze the duck well. Cook for one minute on the flesh side. The glaze will get sticky.
Take the duck off the pan and put it on a dish. Pour the glaze over it. Let it rest skin side up for 15 minutes. Lots of juice will be released from the duck. Slice the duck thinly. Place the slices on your serving dish and pour all the juice and sauce over it.
Serve with noodles, steamed or fried rice.

Tip: Duck breasts should be cooked rare. It must stay nice and pink in the middle, or else it will get really rubbery. Never put duck on a hot pan. When you put it on a hot pan, it sears the skin immediately and the fat doesn't render out.

You can find Chinese five spice powder in the spice sections of the superstores.


Perfect fried rice
Everyone can make fried rice but there are some small tricks that takes a simple fried rice to a restaurant quality fried rice. Today I am sharing some tips with this recipe which you might find useful. This is my fool-proof fried rice recipe.

3 cups of boiled rice
2 eggs
1/2 cup carrot finely sliced
1/2 cup green beans or broccoli finely chopped
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup oil
Black pepper and salt to taste

Beat the eggs with a little salt. Heat oil in a wok. Add the eggs and scramble it until cooked. Once done take it out of the wok.
Heat a little bit of the oil again in the wok. Add the onion, garlic and fry for one minute over high heat. Add the vegetables and fry for two minutes. Add a little salt and pepper. Mix it well. Add the scrambled egg.
Now add the rice and sprinkle the soy over it. Mix it well and serve hot.

- If you wish to make chicken or shrimp fried rice, then put them after the onion and garlic. Fry them until cooked and then add the vegetables. This will prevent the vegetables from becoming soggy with the water relesed from the meat.
- Try to chop the vegetables almost the same size as the rice.
- Well separated rice is crucial for a good fried rice. Nothing is worse than mushy rice. Boil the rice with just enough water to cook it through and add a little oil when cooking. Take the rice out after its cooked and spread on a wide dish. Fluff it up with a fork and cool it in the fridge. This makes the rice fluffy and well separated. Cold rice is much easier to use for stir frying.
- Do not over cook the vegetables. Keep them crunchy and vibrant. Cook them as fast as possible over high heat. Never boil the vegetables for fried rice.

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