five-spiced duck breasts on stir-fried vegetable sticks

This duck dish is quick and easy to prepare, and the honey and spice glaze and multi-coloured vegetables make it pretty special too.

4 x 175g (6oz) duck breasts
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp clear honey
4 tbsp sweet soy sauce (ketchup manis) or dark soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 red chill, deseeded and finely chopped

for the stir-fried vegetable sticks
110g (4oz) French beans, trimmed
225g (8oz)  carrots, peeled
1 red pepper, deseeded
1 courgette, trimmed
75g (3oz) mangetout peas
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Cut all the vegetables into thin sticks about the same size as the French beans. Drop the beans into a pan of boiling water and bring back to the boil. Add the carrots and the red pepper and cook for one minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and then dry on kitchen paper.

Lightly score the skin of each duck breast into a diamond pattern with the tip of a sharp knife, taking care that you don’t cut through the meat. Heat a dry frying pan until it is quite hot and add the duck breasts, skin-side down. Turn the heat down to medium and cook them for three to four minutes until the skin is crisp and golden brown. If your pan is not very large, brown them two at a time. Turn the breasts over and cook them for another 5 minutes, or a little longer if you don’t like your duck too pink.

Meanwhile, mix together the five-spice powder, honey, sweet soy sauce, vinegar and chopped red chilli.

Pour away all the excess fat from the pan. Add the honey mixture and leave it to bubble away gently, turning the duck breasts now and then until they are nicely glazed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or another frying pan, add the garlic, ginger and vegetables and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until they are cooked but still crunchy. Season with some salt and pepper. Pile them into the centre of four warmed plates. Rest the duck on top and spoon over any remaining glaze.