This Spicy Thai Duck salad is one of our go-to date night at home dishes. To say I’m obsessed with it is a bit of an understatement. I adore, crave it, and need to have it regularly. If Jason wasn’t the sweetest hubby on earth, he’d probably tell me to stop talking about it all the time. Thai flavors in general are my most-craved flavors, but this salad is at the top of the list. The buttery, savory duck is perfectly complemented by all of the sharp, sour, spicy, sweet flavors of the dressing and veggies.
If you have frequented many Thai restaurants (like we have) you may have had the popular Thai Spicy Beef Salad that’s on almost every Thai menu I’ve seen. It’s one of our favorites and we order it every time we go out for Thai. One time we ordered it Thai spicy and I couldn’t feel my lips for the rest of the meal. Like, my ears were burning. Normally, it’s just the right amount of spicy and we love it. We also usually get a duck dish. Either a curry or a crispy duck with basil (my mouth is watering as I type this). We always order a variety so we can share. Sigh. The best.
Spicy Thai Duck Salad
This has become one of our go-to date night at home dishes. It just hits all the right notes and it seems like such a special, restaurant-quality (but better) dish.
What you need for the salad
- two duck breasts
- 1 head of leafy lettuce such as red or green leaf – romaine or butter lettuce would be nice too
- english cucumber
- red onion
- fresh mint, basil, green onions, cilantro
- hot chile peppers
- fresh limes
- rice or mung bean noodles (optional)
what you need for the dressing
- fish sauce
- soy sauce
- lime juice
- tablespoon of sugar, honey, or sweetener of your choice (optional)
- ground white pepper
- grated ginger and garlic
- toasted rice power (optional but very authentic)
Scoring duck breasts
You want to score the fat of your duck breasts, which just means taking a very sharp knife and gliding it over the fat to make a criss-cross pattern. So you will slice at an angle making long slashes about 1/4 inch apart in one direction, then rotate the breast and perform the same slices so that you end up with a diamond or criss cross pattern. Be careful to just slice through the fat, not into the duck breast itself.
Start duck breasts in a cold pan
Then you will place them fat side down in a cold pan. You’ll turn the pan to medium-low and cook almost the entire way – about 10 minutes – before flipping and finishing on the meaty side very briefly. This allows the glorious duck fat to render, leaving a thin layer of lightly crisped fat on top of the succulent meat. Bonus: you get to keep the rendered fat for cooking (may I suggest cooking potatoes in it? Nothing better!)Print
This Spicy Thai Duck Salad is one of my most-craved dishes. Packed with everything I love about Thai food – spicy, sour, crunchy, savory, a tiny bit sweet. It is one of our favorite date-night at home dishes and I hope you love it as much as we do!
For the salad
- 2 domestic duck breasts, fat scored in a criss-cross pattern
- medium-sized head of leafy lettuce
- english cucumber, sliced into ribbons with vegetable peeler
- large carrot, peeled and sliced into ribbons or shredded
- medium red onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup each of fresh mint leaves, cilantro leaves, basil leaves (thai if you can find it), and sliced green onions
- two tomatoes, sliced into wedges (not pictured here, but a very good addition)
- fresh lime wedges for serving
- rice or mung bean noodles (optional) – just cook one or two servings according to package instructions
what you need for the dressing
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- juice of 2 fresh limes
- 1 tablespoon of honey, sugar, or sweetener of your choice- optional but it gives a nice balance
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced or grated
- 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon toasted rice power (optional but very authentic)
- To make toasted rice powder, place 1/4 cup rice in a sauté pan over medium heat (I use jasmine, but a glutinous rice is traditional). Toast, stirring and shaking pan almost constantly, until rice is very dark golden, but not burnt.
- Transfer to mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind or pulse until very finely ground.
- Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. (see notes for a variation here)
- Score duck breasts and place fat side down in a skillet. Turn heat on to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes, removing excess duck fat as it renders.
- Once fat is nicely rendered and golden brown, flip breasts over and cook for 1-2 minutes until desired doneness. We like ours quite pink still so I only cook for about 1 minute on the meaty side.
- Remove to plate and let rest while you arrange the lettuce, noodles, and other ingredients on a large platter.
- Slice duck breast thinly and arrange on platter.
- Drizzle dressing over everything just before serving.
- Serve with extra dressing, lime wedges, and toasted rice powder.
Sometimes when I make this I let the tomatoes (not pictured here), onions, chili peppers, and cucumbers marinate in the dressing while I prepare the duck. It gives them more flavor and takes the edge off the onions a bit.
If you don’t want to make veggie ribbons or shreds, you can just slice the veggies thinly or any way you like. The textures of the ribbons are just really fun and special.
Keywords: spicy thai duck salad, thai duck, thai crispy duck salad, date night at home