The inspiration for this comes from an excellent Malay dish called ayam percik, where chicken is grilled over charcoal flames after being marinated in an irresistible coconut and lemongrass sauce. Malaysian-style Nando’s, if you like. I have used duck for this spicy Christmas treat, which goes really well with the usual festive extras such as roast potatoes. The sauce has a hefty chilli kick, so if you prefer less heat, simply halve the number of chillies and the amount of sugar.
This recipe is made using a 1.25kg duck, which is a good size for two people, but would also work perfectly for larger ducks to feed more people.
whole duck 1 x 1.25kg (gizzards removed)
For the spice paste
lemongrass 4 stalks, hard outer leaves and ends removed, roughly chopped
white onion 100g, peeled and roughly chopped
garlic 4 cloves, peeled
turmeric powder ½ tbsp
fresh red chillies 4, tops removed, roughly chopped
shrimp paste ½ tbsp (or replace with 2 tbsp fish sauce)
salt ½ tbsp
granulated sugar 2 tbsp
coconut milk 120g
vegetable oil 2 tbsp
The day before you cook the duck, blitz the spice paste ingredients in a food processor or a juicer until it reaches the consistency of a fine paste.
Put it in a saucepan and fry on medium heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add 200ml water, bring to boil and simmer for another 10 minutes stirring often. Turn off the heat. If the sauce is a bit lumpy, use a handheld blender to blitz it further so that it is smooth. Leave to cool.
Once cool, use half of it and smear all over the duck including underneath and inside the cavity. Place the duck in a large roasting tray and put it in the fridge overnight, uncovered, to let the flavours penetrate. Save the remaining half of the sauce to eat with the duck later.
The next day take the duck out of the fridge and let it rest on the kitchen counter, uncovered, for an hour to dry out further and come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, arrange the shelves of your oven by removing the top one to make enough room for the duck, and moving the bottom shelf closer to the middle shelf to collect excess fat.
Make sure that a roasting tray can fit in between the bottom and middle shelves. The middle shelf should be in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4 for at least 30 minutes. Fan ovens are particularly effective for roasting duck.
Place the duck breast side up, straight on to the bars of the middle shelf of the oven, then pop the roasting tray the duck was resting in on the bottom shelf beneath the bird, ready to catch all the fat that drips out of it during cooking.
In total, the duck will need 20 minutes, plus 20 minutes per 500g cooking time. In this recipe, we are working with a smaller 1.25kg duck which would take 70 minutes in total. A duck of 1.7kg for three people would take 90 minutes. A larger 2kg duck for four people would take 100 minutes.
Towards the end of the cooking time, warm up the remaining coconut and lemongrass sauce.
Once cooked, use a long pair of tongs to lift the duck onto another baking tray and carefully drain any excess fat in the cavity. Then put the duck on to a serving plate and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Don’t try to carve a roast duck. The easiest thing to do is to pull the meat away from the bones with a pair of tongs or with your fingers (wearing clean kitchen gloves), then fight over the skin, the best part.
Serve with mashed or roast potatoes, the remaining coconut and lemongrass sauce, and a dressed salad or buttered greens.