Chinese Five Spice Duck with Bitter Salad by Karen Martini
Chinese Five Spice Duck with Bitter Salad by Karen Martini

This recipe was the easiest thing to put together and photograph. I didn’t prep, nor expect it to turn out quite like it did. It’s funny how the harder I try, the less successful the outcome. No matter how often this happens I still love that little surprise at the end when I am astonished by my own cooking.

This is my first attempt at five-spice anything. It must seem silly that I’ve started off by using a Chinese recipe from an Italian chef – even when I have quite a few Asian cookbooks in my collection. This particular recipe jumped out at me and I decided to give it a try.

I am glad I did. I made some slight alterations (because I was lazy), this turned out to be super easy, delicious and pleased my toughest critic… Mum.

Five Spice Duck

Recipe adapted from Where the Heart Is by Karen Martini

3 duck breasts on the bone
1 tablespoon salt flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 head radicchio, trimmed
handful of watercress leaves
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
your favourite mash potatoes

Chinese Five Spice Duck

[1] Wash the duck breast, pluck away any stray hairs and pat dry with a paper towel
[2] Place ducks on a tray, uncovered, in the fridge for 12-24 hours before cooking

Chinese Five Spice Duck by Karen Martini

[3] Preheat oven to 225 degrees
[4] Combine salt, pepper and Chinese five-spice powder in a mortar and pestle and grind until smooth
[5] Rub the salt mixture into the ducks, inside and out
[6] Place on a roasting rack in a baking dish
[7] Roast on middle shelf of oven for 1 hour

Chinese Five Spice Duck

[8] While the duck breasts are cooking prepare the salad. shred radicchio finely and place in a bowl
[9] Add onion, balsamic vinegar, watercress, olive oil and season. Toss gently to combine.
[10] Serve duck with radicchio salad and mash potatoes

Chinese Five Spice Duck

Tips from the cookbookmaniac
* The original recipe asked for two whole ducks, de-boning and two bakes. I scaled the recipe back, only put it in the oven once and I cannot de-bone anything to save my life. The skin was crispy, although not earth shattering.
* I used the masterchef recipe for the mash potatoes and loved it. It was buttery and scrumptious.
* Pizzaboy enjoyed the duck but he didn’t appreciate having to gnaw the meat off the bone. Although he doesn’t mind tucking into a huge leg of a chicken.

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  1. Maria

    I have recently discovered five spice and I love to use it on marinades! I’ve tried steak and chicken, but I bet duck’s more intense flavour would really compliment this lovely spice mix ๐Ÿ™‚
    Beautiful photos as always Amy! xx

  2. Mark @ Cafe Campana

    Great looking duck. I always love the rich fatty flavour. I think five spice would be a good accompaniment.

  3. chocolatesuze

    zomg crispy duck skin <3

  4. mademoiselle dรฉlicieuse

    Scaling back recipes and being lazy seem to be my ode to life at the moment. As long as the results are as great as these (esp impressing your own mother!) then it’s all good.

  5. panda

    this duck looks fantastic!! and i want to see your bookshelf, i think we have the same books! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. OohLookBel

    Wow, that looks very impressive! I bought some 5 spice powder ages ago and only used a teaspoon of it, so I might dig it out and try it out on this recipe. Duck legs (in the bone) are definitely the way to go.

  7. john@heneedsfood

    I’ve been using five spice more often these days and this duck is something I wouldn’t hesitate in picking up and chewing in my hand

  8. pigpigscorner

    I love using 5 spice in marinades, adds so much flavour! The duck looks gorgeous.

  9. Anh

    Oh.. duck! Yummmmm!

  10. TasteHongKong

    You adaption with a portion of the bird looks great, though I’m not a fan of duck. I bet the flavors of 5-spice powder just float.

  11. Juliana

    Oh! I love the Chinese 5-spices…we grew up with it since my mom will cook at lot with this spice ๐Ÿ™‚
    The duck looks fabulous!

  12. Richard Elliot

    How good does the duck look? I might try this when I’m back in the UK and can get my hands on some tasty duck breasts!

    (For some reason I think duck tastes really bland here in Oz, farmed duck just isn’t the same.)

  13. Angie’s Recipes

    I adore the 5-spiced dishes….the duck looks perfectly roasted!

  14. Von

    I’ve never used five spice powder before =P This looks really yummy- and so flavoursome!

  15. grace

    five spice is new to me too, and duck is a rare visitor to my kitchen. that said, i still appreciate your success in this lovely dish! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Rosa

    The sweetness of thze duck goes perfectly well with the bitterness of the salad! A gorgeous dish!



  17. tigerfish

    It looks so perfected roasted! The Chinese also use five-spice to braise duck.

  18. angie

    Good stuff Amy =)
    Ryan doesn’t like eating stuff off the bone either, he’ll scrunch his nose at me if I try and feed anything on a bone to him though steak bones don’t count. Mmm craving for some duck now.

  19. Adrian @ Food Rehab

    oooh, check out the crispy skin on that duck! Making me hungry and just in time- my lunchbreak is due LOL

    5 spice rocks.

  20. Ellie (Almost Bourdain)

    I love duck with five spice powder! They married well together. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.

  21. Lisa @ bakebikeblog

    oooh yummo! I have never cooked 5 spice anything either!
    PS – My cookbook arrived – thankyou so much!

  22. Trissa

    I’m pretty much the same – the harder I try to make something look nice – the less I succeed! The duck looks amazing – I love the side salad – the bitter salad would nicely cut the richness of the duck.

  23. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    This seems to be one of those magical dishes that looks like it takes way more work to create than it actually does. I like to use 5 spice powder with pork so I can imagine it working beautifully with duck. Mmmmmmmmm crispy skin.

  24. Maria@TheGourmetChallenge

    I think the pleasant surprises are the best thing about cooking, not to mention the gorgeous food! Love this recipe, should give it a go myself!

  25. MaryMoh

    Looks delicious…well done! I would love to slice the duck and make Chinese wraps like for Peking Duck.

  26. Erica

    I love the sounds of this dish and don’t cook duck often enough and with those spices, perfection!