August 15, 2017
[Our Pekin, or Peking, ducks happily frolicking around the farm. Who wouldn’t like that?]
Duck, Melons, & Yard Long Beans
Judy here again! It’s been a little busy at the farm.. what with the decision to process our own birds by way of a mobile processing unit! Rather than sending them to a USDA approved facility to process and package our free range feathered friends, we decided to go through the process ourselves! Which means training on equipment & health codes, certification, licensing, fees, tests, renting a mobile processing unit, etc. It is quite an ordeal! But it sure does give you a level of appreciation for the work to get the meat on your plate, as well as the produce.
Since Farmer Kohei and company are preoccupied with making sure our duck friends are treated and processed well… I’m tasked with making sure YOU’LL be able to enjoy it. So if you haven’t cooked with duck before, you’re in for a tasty end product! We hope you can love your duck as much as we’ve loved raising the ducks.
What to know about duck:
a) it tends to have a more “gamey”, dark meat flavor than its chicken friend, but can be oh-so-good.
b) the skin is a little thicker and more full of oils compared to chicken, but a lot will be rendered out in the cooking process. This excess duck fat can be reserved and used for other cooking needs! Try roasting veggies with it, flavoring mashed potatoes, using it in vinaigrettes, etc.. It freezes well, so you can go find some more ways to use duck fat.
c) it can be tasty! Try it!
Peking Duck Style
(courtesy of SeriousEats.com)
No need to make the extras, unless you really want to, but definitely try your duck cooked in this manner. Farmer Kohei has cooked it this way before and loved the taste!
Spiced Slow-roasted Duck
(courtesy of BBC GoodFood.com)
Another way to roast a whole duck. Similar to pork, duck can be paired with a lightly sweet sauce like apple sauce, as in this recipe, or for a more Asian twist, try hoisin sauce or a sweetened tamarind sauce. (Keep in mind this recipe is British, so you’ll have to convert to Fahrenheit and the metric system.)
How to Cut Up a Whole Duck
(courtesy of MapleLeafFarms.com
Don’t want to have to use up a whole duck for one meal? Try breaking it down into parts and make sausage, or use the different parts in separate recipes. This site also has tips and recipes to cook duck breast and duck legs.
[photo courtesy of SpecialtyProduce.com]
Not familiar with the bittermelon? Don’t be discouraged or scared off by this green, bumpy gourd. It is also called bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter squash, karela, or balsam pear. As its name claims, it is, indeed, bitter. But the bitter taste, according to many cultures, holds quite a few medicinal and nutritional properties (i.e. being good for blood circulation and lowering blood pressure–but consult with a doctor if trying to treat these issues); according to some (and SpecialtyProduce.com), “it is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of banana.” Try it raw in juice form (a customer at the Farmer’s Market claimed that’s the only way she’s consumed it!), or cook it in soups, stir-frys, or pickle it.
Bittermelon is a pale green color while young, and when ripe, can turn into an orange-red color. It is a plant widely grown in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. Try searching for some recipe ideas across those food genres! Here’s a few recipes to give you an idea of its versatility, if you don’t mind getting a little bitter :).
Pro tip: if you want to decrease some of its bitterness bite, slice thinly, place in a strainer and sprinkle with salt until all pieces are covered, let sit for about 15 minutes. Then rinse off salt with water, and squeeze out excess water from bitter melon pieces until mostly dry. Repeat rinsing step as necessary until salt is completely washed off.
Vietnamese-style Sautéed Bitter Melon with Pork Belly & Egg
(courtesy of Tasty Desu’s Blog)
I’d recommend adding a little seasoning to this dish to add some oomph–i.e. a teaspoon or so of fish sauce and sugar. This can be made vegetarian by omitting the pork, and adding another sort of flavor by way of dashes of soy sauce and sugar.
Southeast Asian-style Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup
(courtesy of HungryHuy.com)
This recipe from HungryHuy.com leans towards Vietnamese cuisine, but is very similar to one my Cambodian mom makes. You could probably find similar pork-stuffed bitter melon soup recipes across some Southeast Asian cuisines. In these soups, it certainly tastes better the next day (some of the bitterness calms down and flavors are enhanced)! Do some tasty experimenting, and see which soup recipes you like best!
Bitter Melon Juice with Apple & Lemon Water
(courtesy of China Sichuan Food)
A South Asian-inspired Bitter Melon Stir Fry
(courtesy of Ma Recipes Blog)
I recommend trying this recipe, and then adding a twist to it with a little tomato paste or tomato sauce. Yum!
A Caribbean Bitter Melon & Salted Fish Stir Fry
(courtesy of CaribbeanPot.com)
[photo courtesy of New Roots for Refugees Blog]
Fuzzy melon, also known as mo qua, or hairy gourd looks similar to a zucchini.