(CBS News) NEW YORK - Ming Tsai didn't begin his career in the kitchen.
The Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef, who's host and executive producer of PBS' popular "Simply Ming," received a mechanical engineering degree from Yale and a master's in hotel administration and hospitality marketing from Cornell, before following his passion for cooking.
And the king of Asian cuisine says his mechanical engineering aptitude actually helped lead him to become a chef, and helps him in the kitchen to this day.
Ming, who's known for his innovative East-meets-West cooking style and is credited with bringing Asian-style cooking to the masses, has also written four cookbooks. And his fifth, called "Simply Ming" (just like his show), will hit stores in a couple of months.
He visited "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to serve up recipes, including his ultimate dish, Duck Breast with Blueberry Gin Sauce.
Duck Breast with Blueberry-Gin Sauce and Cucumber Couscous
- 2 cups whole wheat couscous
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 large basil leaves, cut into thin strips plus sprigs for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 duck breasts (about 10 ounces each), preferably Pekin, tenderloin, any sinew and excess fat removed
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
- 1/2 cup Bombay Sapphire East
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
1. Make the couscous. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the couscous, stir, cover, and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Fluff with a fork, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff again, transfer couscous to a large bowl and allow to cool. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour then add the cucumber, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and basil. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Score the skin side of the duck breast in a crosshatch pattern, slicing only halfway through the fat layer.
3. Heat a large heavy saute pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Season the breasts with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low, and cook - skin side down - until brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board skin side up, and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve.
4. Return the pan to medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the onion, ginger and lemongrass and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the Bombay Sapphire East and cook until all the alcohol has burned off. Add the blueberries and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer blueberry-gin sauce to a saucepan over low heat to stay warm.
5. Rinse and wipe out pan. Heat pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of reserved duck fat and swirl to coat. When fat is hot, add the duck breasts meat side down and cook until medium-rare, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip over and cook to re-crisp the skin sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
6. Place large mound of couscous on serving platter. Slice duck and place on top of couscous. Spoon blueberry sauce over couscous and garnish with basil sprigs.
For many more of Ming's recipes, go to Page 2.