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Author Notes: I love all things ducky and smoky, and what I set out to do here was get that goodness without having to actually smoke anything. I used Lapsan Souchong tea and a dash of toasted sesame oil to achieve the flavors I was after, and it worked pretty darn well. The result is a hearty, unctuous (Aaron Sánchez loves that word -- do you watch Chopped?) , and pleasantly fatty bowl of noodles and duck. —aargersi
Food52 Review: WHO: Aargersi is a 3-time contest winner, most recently for Your Best Coconut.
WHAT: Garlicky noodles topped with not-actually-smoked smoked duck.
HOW: Brine duck legs in Lapsan Souchon, then roast until tender. Use the duck fat to fry the duck and mushrooms, then combine the meat and vegetables with egg noodles that have been boiled in the smoky tea as well.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Here’s a smart, smart way to achieve smokiness without going through the pain of setting up a stove-top smoker. The mushrooms and green onions make this dish feel slightly more sophisticated than Chinese takeout, but it’s close enough to satisfy as if it came from our favorite restaurant. —The Editors
For the duck and brine:
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 Lapsan Souchon tea bags
- 2 whole anise stars
- 2 duck legs
- In a large pot, create a brine for the duck legs: Bring everything but the duck legs to a boil. Once it has reached boil, remove from heat and allow to steep and cool to room temperature. Put the duck legs in a container large enough for them and the brine, and pour the brine over. Allow them to brine for several hours or overnight.
- When they are good and soaked, remove the legs and pat them dry. Discard the brine.
- Heat a small, heavy skillet that is oven-safe over medium heat. (My 8-inch cast-iron skillet worked great.) Preheat the oven to 325º F.
- Place the legs in the skillet skin side-down, and allow to slowly brown and render. The trick here is to get a deep golden skin and lots of fat without burning, which works well at a lower heat. Once the skin is golden brown and there is a good amount of fat in the pan, flip the legs over and cover the pan with foil. Pop the pan in the oven and roast the legs until very tender, about 2 hours.
- You can stop here and finish the recipe the next day -- just save the legs and the fat, or continue to make the noodle bowl immediately.
For the duck noodle bowl:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 Lapsang Souchong tea bags
- Duck, skin, and fat from above
- 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 6 ounces Chinese egg noodles
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Bragg liquid aminos or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- Fill a large pot with water, add the salt and tea bags, bring to a boil, and turn the heat off immediately. Allow the tea bags to steep.
- Meanwhile, put the duck fat into a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Remove the skin from the duck legs and fry it in the fat until crispy, then set on a paper towel to drain.
- Add mushrooms to the pan and fry them until they begin to crisp up. Pull the meat off of the duck legs, tear it, and add it to the mushrooms. Add the pepper.
- While the duck and mushrooms cook, remove the tea bags from the water, return to a boil, and cook the noodles according to package directions. They will be nicely infused with a subtle smokiness.
- When the noodles are cooked, drain them, and add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and duck. Toss, add the liquid aminos (or soy sauce) and sesame oil. Taste the noodles and add more aminos if you'd like. Toss in the green onions to just wilt them.
- Serve the noodles in two bowls and either crumble the crispy skin on top or serve it in chips along with the noodle bowl. That's all -- eat up!
- Your Best Recipe with Noodles Contest Winner!