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THE Dish: Ming Tsai's Duck Breast

(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.

All "CBS This Morning: Saturday" recipes
Blog: "What's Cooking"
Special section: Food and Wine


Duck Breast with Blueberry-Gin Sauce and Cucumber Couscous

Serves 4

  • 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.

Drunken Shrimp

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds large (U15) shrimp, shell-on, de-veined and butterflied
  • 1 cup Bombay Sapphire East
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon medium-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts only, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 12 Thai basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 6 cups cooked 50-50 White and Brown Rice, for serving

1. In a large bowl, marinate the shrimp in Bombay Sapphire East for 20 minutes. Drain shrimp, reserving the marinade.

2. In a wok over high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. When oil is hot, add lemongrass, black pepper, garlic, ginger and scallions and stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

3. Season the shrimp with salt and add to the wok. Stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes then add 1/2 cup of reserved Bombay Sapphire East. Continue to cook until reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the butter. Add lemon juice and Thai basil and toss. Season to taste. Serve over 50-50 white and brown rice.

50-50 White and Brown Rice

Rinse 1-1/2 cups brown rice and soak it in fresh cold water to cover for 1 hour. Transfer the rice to a medium saucepan.

Put 1-1/2 cups white rice in a large bowl in the sink. Rinse the rice by filling the bowl with cold water and stirring the rice with your hand. Drain and repeat until the water in the bowl is clean. Transfer the rice to the same saucepan.

Flatten the rice with your palm and without removing it, add water until it touches the highest knuckle of your middle finger. Cover and boil over high heat for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand, covered, to plump, for 20 minutes. Stir gently and serve.

Recipe from "Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy," by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm, copyright 2012 (Kyle Books), to be published October 2012.

For even more of Ming's recipes, go to Page 3.


Black Garlic & Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Serves 4 as a side

  • 2 tablespoons grape seed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon minced black garlic*
  • 6 heads baby bok choy, cut in half, cored and rinsed
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 1/4 cup fresh chicken stock (or low sodium store bought)
  • 1 tablespoon Wan Ja Shan® organic wheat-free tamari
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a wok over medium high heat, add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds or until the aroma is apparent. Add the bok choy and the scallion whites, toss to coat. Continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce and season. Continue to cook for 2 -3 minutes.

Check for seasoning. Garnish with scallion greens. Enjoy!

*If black garlic is not available, 1 tablespoon regular garlic + 1 tablespoon fermented black beans may be used as a substitute.

Traditional Mandarin Fried Rice

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 la chang (Chinese sausage), cut into 1/8-inch dice or 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts chopped and reserved separately
  • 5 cups cold cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Kosher salt, if needed

1. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the eggs, which will puff up. Allow to set, about 5 seconds, and using a wok spatula or similar tool, push the sides of the egg mass toward the center to allow uncooked egg to reach the pan and solidify. Flip the mass, allow it to set, about 5 seconds, and slide it onto a dish; do not overcook. With the edge of the spatula, break the eggs into small pieces.

Set aside.

2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to the wok and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until soft, about 1 minute. Add the la chang, the white parts of the scallions, and the rice and toss thoroughly until heated through. Add the soy sauce, pepper, and reserved eggs and toss. Correct the seasoning, add the salt if necessary, transfer to a platter, and garnish with the scallion greens. Serve immediately.

Copyright 1999 Ming Tsai. Taken from "Blue Ginger: East Meets West with Ming Tsai."

Lemongrass Panna Cotta

Serves 8

  • 4 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, pounded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups heavy cream, plus more as needed
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons granulated unflavored gelatin
  • 1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced 1/4- inch thick
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1. A day in advance, fill a large bowl with water and add ice. In a large saucepan, combine the lemongrass, 2 cups cream, the milk and 6 tablespoons of the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture. Tie the vanilla pod in a loose knot and add that too. Bring all to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the pot to the water bath. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate overnight in the pot to steep.

2. Combine the gelatin with 1/3 cup room-temperature water in a small nonreactive bowl. Whisk over a small saucepan of simmering water until the gelatin completely dissolves, about 1 minute.

3. Meanwhile, strain the lemongrass mixture into a 4-cup measuring cup, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Add additional cream through the strainer to measure 4 cups and return the mixture to the saucepan. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of the cream to the gelatin to temper, stir, return the gelatin mixture to the cream, and gently stir to combine. Pour the mixture slowly through a sieve (to break up any bubbles), dividing it among eight 4-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate to set, 8 hours or overnight.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and zest, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes.

5. To serve, place the ramekins on dessert plates. Top with the strawberries or serve them on the side.

Copyright "Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy," by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm, Kyle Books, 2012.

Yuzu Collins

  • 4 count Bombay Sapphire East
  • 1/2 ounce ginger syrup
  • 1/2 ounce yuzu juice
  • Yuzu-togarashi sugar*
  • Club soda

Fill tumbler of Boston shaker with ice. Add the Bombay Sapphire East, ginger syrup and yuzu juice. Shake until the shaker is beaded with condensation and very cold to the touch. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.

Rim a collins glass with yuzu-togarashi sugar and fill with ice. Strain gin mixture into glass and top with splash of club soda.

*Make yuzu-togarashi sugar with equal parts sugar and yuzu-togarashi (a Japanese chile powder mixed with dried Japanese citrus zest).

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