Smoked Duck with Sea Salt and Sichuan Peppercorns

中文食谱: 椒盐熏鸭

We recently bought an electric smoker which, after a few uses, has proven to be a great toy for foodies like my husband and me.   

We have been smoking ribs, brisket, chicken wings, chicken, duck and a lot of more since the day it was delivered to our house.  One of the best and tastiest is smoked duck with sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns.

This is our new favorite.  Most electric smokers are dark colors.  I am very pleased to find this bright red one.  Isn’t it a beauty?

We were struggling between the models with and without glass front door.  A few of my husband’s friends who have serious hobby of BBQ smoking told him it wouldn’t matter after a while because the smoke will taint the glass anyway.  That helped and we ordered this one.  

We were looking for small size, 30 inches.  You might want bigger size if you have larger family than two. 

Ingredients for smoked duck:

1 frozen duck, about 5 lbs
1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 to 3 fine sea salt, or use more or less according to personal taste

Directions:

Most ducks we can get from grocery stores are frozen.  Defrost it for a couple days in the refrigerator.  And rinse well inside and out under running water. 

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Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns.

Sautee until the salt slightly changes its color.  At this point, you should be able to smell an intense flavor from Sichuan peppercorns too.

Rub the sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns immediately evenly inside and out.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple days.

Add smoke chips to designated smoker box.  Preheat the smoker to 225 F/107 C

Place the duck on top rack.  I use the middle rack for ribs

Close the door, sit back and relax!

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When the duck is being smoked, I prepare some chicken wings coated with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, ground black pepper, ground cumin and salt.

Two hours later, add the wings to the bottom rack

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The duck and ribs are looking good.

Check smoker box every couple hours.  Refill it when chips are gone.

About 5 to 6 hours’ smoking time produce a beautiful smoked duck

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ribs

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And good looking wings too

Hot off smoke racks

With a sharp clever knife, chop the duck into small pieces

Smoky and tasty

A cold beer makes it perfect  O(∩_∩)O~

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Interlochen camping & boating

Usually Labor Day marks the end of summer in Michigan.  A lot camping sites gradually shut down for the season after Labor Day.  However, it looks like we are having a longer summer in 2017.  A couple heat waves have brought over ninety degree hot days even weeks upon us. 

So we take advantage of that and go on camping. 

The leaves are starting to change colors even though it is still very hot.

Set up our tent

Prepare to build a campfire

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I plan to grill beef short ribs

ingredients:

2 lbs beef short ribs
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 to 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix the beef short ribs and seasonings together.  Refrigerate overnight.  Pack in Ziploc bag and store it in cooler.

When the firewood is half burned, it is time to grill!

Heat a cast iron rack nearby fireside.  When it gets hot, add beef short ribs.  There is usually high amount of fat in short ribs which will prevent from sticking to the cooking rack.

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Looking good

Ready to eat  O(∩_∩)O~

BBQ and cold beers go hand in hand

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This is the view we have when having dinner

Isn’t it gorgeous?

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The second batch of short ribs is ready.  The trick is to perfect campfire grilling is patience.

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Bacon wrapped scallops and shrimps are next.

Sprinkle the scallops and shrimps with sea salt and freshly ground black peppers. 

Wrap each scallop with a slice of bacon.  Secure with bamboo sticks. 

Skew the shrimps with bamboo sticks too.

The firewood is turning to charcoal.  It is perfect for grilling.

Add bacon wrapped scallops and shrimps to the grill

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Be patient.  Drink some beer and relax

Bacon wrapped scallops will take some time to be cooked to perfection

Shrimps cook faster than scallops

Dessert is cinnamon rolls I bought from nearby grocery store

Heat up a cast iron skillet.  Grease it with oil and add cinnamon rolls

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Flip them over when half cooked.  

To be honest, they are as good as I expected.

So we decide to drove to monomers for dessert

I have chocolate + pistachio flavor.  My husband has chocolate + rocky road

The chocolate coated waffle cone is good.  But chocolate is too thick to chew.

After dessert, we go hiking in the park for a while before it gets totally dark.

The moon hasn’t risen yet.  When we look up, we can see the amazing star night sky.  The sparkling stars are so bright and beautiful.

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We walk to the lakeshore to get a better view.

We have been living in Michigan for years.  But we haven’t seen such beautiful stars before. 

We can even see the Milky Way very clear right upon us in the sky

I wake up early the next morning; sneak out the tent to watch the sun rise.

The sun isn’t up yet.  The sky is turning color from gray to blue to purple to rose to deep pink

Here comes the sun!

My husband is up too.

We start another campfire for breakfast.

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Heat a cast iron by the fireside.  Add chopped bacon.

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Add bacon wrapped scallops to the grill

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Add diced cooked potatoes.  I bought the mini potatoes from local farmer’s market.  It is one of my favorites. 

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

When the potatoes is golden brown, add chopped green onion and rosemary

I enjoy campfire cooking even more than I realize

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Alright, time to eat!

Make good use of the fire and grill some sweet corns

Grilled corns are sweet and light smoky; very tasty.

Lets cook and pose like an iron chef! O(∩_∩)O~

You think the breakfast is over?

Of course not!

Let there be smore! O(∩_∩)O~

I add a couple dark chocolate with caramel filling to cookies and briefly heat them up by the fireside too; just warm enough to melt the chocolate.

And toast the mashmarrows

Add the mashmarrowson top of chocolate

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Now we have perfectly cooked S'Mores

Ok, now it is time to dissemble the tent and pack.

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Moomers ice creams again

We drive to Traverse City downtown and rent a double kayak for 4 hours

I have my camera and keys locked on shore and take just my phone with me.

Traverse City downtown rive doesn’t look pleasant this time.  So we turn around back into the lake.

The water near old mission peninsular is very clear and beautiful

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4 hours later, we get back to the shore and ready to go home.

Another perfect camping trip accomplished! O(∩_∩)O~

Mooncakes with Lotus Seeds and Salted Egg Yolks

中文食谱:莲蓉蛋黄月饼

Mid-autumn Day is a very important festival day for Chinese people.  It is kind of like thanks giving day.  It is a tradition for families and friends to get together on this day.  One of the traditional designated foods is mooncakes.  Their round shape represents happiness and life fulfillment.  

I make mooncakes every year.  Nowadays mooncakes come in many shapes and with tons of different fillings.  My personal favorite is lotus seeds filling with salted duck egg yolks.  It is old fashion and I just love it.  The combination sounds exotic?  Trust me; it is really tasty and amazing! O(∩_∩)O~

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I posted detailed instructions last year

Spray the duck egg yolks with a couple teaspoons rice cooking wine and roast them in preheated oven 375F/190C for 8 minutes.  

Salted duck egg yolks can be bought from Asian grocery store.  I love to buy fresh duck eggs from our local farmers market and make them myself.  Here is how to make them at home.

After 8 minutes, the yolks are done

Divide the lotus seed fillings into 25g/each.  Gently press down, wrap around egg yolks, and shape each of them into a little ball between palms

When the mooncakes are molded, transfer them to cookie pans lined with baking mats .

Preheat the oven to 350F/176C.

Bake for 5 minutes.  Take them out and gently brush them with egg wash.

Send them back to oven to bake for another 15 minutes or until they all get gold brown.

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Wrap them in individual little pastry boxes

Gift packaged them in pastry boxes and share with my friends O(∩_∩)O~

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White Bread Loaf

中文菜谱:白面包吐司

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Haven’t baked any loaf lately since summer is here.  One day, out of nowhere, I had a sudden strong desire for a piece of soft and warm and fluffy freshly baked bread.   O(∩_∩)O~

Ingredients:

350 g bread flour
1 teaspoon yeast
40g sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g whole milk
35g melted butter

 

Directions:

Microwave the milk for about 15 seconds.  Add 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast.  Whisk and allow them to sit for 5 to 8 minutes.

In the stand mixer mixing bowl, add bread flour, sugar and salt.  Whisk the dry ingredients together and then add milk and yeast mixture along with an egg. 

Start stand mixer and set speed at 2.  Knead for a couple minutes.  Everything should come together at this point.  Add butter while kneading.

Continue to knead at speed 2 until the dough can pass window panel test.  There is no time set here.  All you need to do is to check from time to time.

Cover the bowl with lid.  The dough will rise double in size in about 50 to 60 minutes depending on the room temperature.

Transfer the dough to a large dusted wooden board .  Punch down and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

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Equally divide the dough into 4 pieces.  With a rolling pin , roll each piece thin and flat.

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Roll them up

Place them side by side in a loaf pan with lid

Wait until they double in size again.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F/190C

Cover the loaf pan with its lid.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

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Unmold it as soon as it comes out for oven.  Cool on a cooling rack

Now it is time to enjoy!

The warm doughy scent when the bread is baking is so comforting that I think I can stay in the kitchen the whole day O(∩_∩)O~  

My favorite way to eat freshly baked loaf is to tear it apart with fingers and then enjoy it piece by piece.  Forget the bread knife.  This is I think the best way to enjoy this soft and fluffy bread. 

Homemade Noodle in Pork Broth and Chili Oil

中文菜谱:猪骨汤面

As an Asian, I love having noodles.  And I love making them at home from scratch too. 

For pork broth:

4 pounds pork back bones
5 quarts water
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 large piece of ginger root, smashed
2 star anises
2 to 3 tablespoons rice cooking wine
4 to 5 dried chili peppers , cut into small pieces
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 black cardamom pot
2 to 3 cloves
1/4 teaspoon Sichuan pepper corns
2 to 3 pieces of dried rhizome/ dried ginger slices
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste

For homemade noodle:

250 g bread flour
a pinch of salt
90 g water

Directions:

Wrap star anises, dried peppers, black peppercorns, dried rhizome/ dried ginger slices, Sichuan peppercorns, black cardamom pot, bay leaves and cloves with a piece of coffee filter paper and tie it up.

Pork back bones are different from neck bones because they are from different parts.  I prefer back bones and leg bones when making pork broth. 

Fill two pots with water.  Heat both of them over high heat.  Add back bones to one pot.  When it comes to boil, transfer the bones to the other pot along with spice bag, rice cooking wine and ginger root.  Discard the water where the bones were previously cooked.

Cover the pot with lid.  Reduce the heat to simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  I use a 5.75 quart Staub cast iron pot which is super great for making stew and broth.

Add ground white pepper, sugar and salt to taste.  Cook for another 15 and 20 minutes.

Add flour and salt to Philips pasta maker

I love thin noodles, so I always use Tagliatelle Pasta Disc

Cover with its lid.  Start the machine and slowly add water on top.

It will automatically knead the dough and squeeze the thin noodles out. 

There is a trick here for better textured noodle/pasta.  You can replace the water with egg + water mixture.  Or you can pause the machine for a few minutes after it kneads the dough so that the flour and water in dough can combine better.

Cook the noodle in boiling water for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Doesn’t it look good already?

I prepare diced bamboo shoots, soft boiled egg, chili oil, chopped pickled daikon, chopped peanuts and chopped green onion as toppings.

Soft boiled egg is my new favorite as noodle topping

Add pork broth and toppings to the noodle.  A bowl of freshly homemade noodle in pork broth and chili oil coming right up! O(∩_∩)O~

Bon Appétit!