I find duck meat to be very sophisticated. So whether you're throwing an elegant dinner or you're having a romantic dinner, duck is the perfect choice.
I'm used to making a French preparation of duck, but I wanted to use oriental flavors for this recipe instead. I decided to use star anise and honey as the base for the glaze. Star anise is a classic Asian flavor, and I have some very special honey at home that I try to use whenever I need a sweetener for a dish. Last time I was in Paris I got a jar of raw honey from my sister's in-laws who are honey makers in Amiens, a town in the nothern region of France. It's just out of this world.
Place the duck breast flesh down in a deep plate filled with yogurt. It's not necessary that the yogurt touches the skin of the duck. Plastic wrap the plate and refrigerate at least for 3 hours or even better overnight.
The day after, remove all the excess yogurt and pat dry the meat.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 1 tablespoon of grated ginger root.
In a mortar and pestle, grind the star anise and gather about 1/2 teaspoon of the anise powder.
Gather the black cardamom seeds and grind them finely in the mortar and pestle.
In a bowl, dissolve the honey into the mango juice. Add the the anise powder, the ginger paste and the cardamom powder. Set aside.
Make criss-cross cut on the duck fat without touching the flesh.
Heat a nonstick skillet until it's really hot on the highest setting. Add a teaspoon of coarse salt. Place the duck skin down on high heat for 1 minute, then lower the heat to medium. Season the flesh side of the meat with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 minutes. Don't touch the meat.
Pour the spiced honey over the meat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the duck for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how pink you like your meat. It's important that you do not touch the meat to keep the meat moist and tender.
Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the duck breasts to a plate, flip the skin side up. Let the meat sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Thinly slice the duck and serve immediately.
Serve with a gratin dauphinois, steamed jasmine rice, sauteed pea shoot tendrils (an Asian baby spinach-like green) in garlic or caramelized fruits like apples, peaches or persimmons.
The acidity of the yogurt acts as a great meat tenderizer.
You can substitute the mango juice with any other juice like orange juice. I just find mango juice to be more exotic.
Do NOT discard the duck fat, use it to brown some potatoes (pommes rissolées); it's delicious!