There’s a Leonard Cohen song titled “Waiting for the Miracle to Come” which begins “Baby I’ve been waiting…”
That’s what I feel like these days as we anticipate the birth of Baby Shananigans while hoping that we will be waiting a little while longer. It has been more than a week since the baby first attempted to make a surprise early appearance. Shane is coping and Shan seems a model of calm and good humour as she sits it out in Beijing. I wish I could say the same for myself…
My thoughts stray to those weeks we spent in China last summer and the lovely outings we had in Xinjiang Province with Shan’s family when Baby Shananigans was just a little speck in our imaginations. We spent one of those days at Tianchi, the beautiful Heaven’s Lake perched 2,000 metres above the arid desert terrain around Urumqi. The lake is inaccessible at this time of year when it fills from the melting snow of the surrounding mountains. In summer it is a breath of fresh air and an escape from the oven-like basin below. I have great photos of that day out which I must include in a travel blogpost sometime soon. You really do feel closer to heaven there.
Shane and Shan and baby we are wishing heavenly blessings your way and praying that all will be well.
Despite all that’s going on, we still have to eat so I try to put together something nourishing and tasty from whatever is handy. Yesterday I found 2 barbary duck breasts in the freezer, some odds and ends of vegetables in the drawer and with them I made a variation of Dongting Stir-fried Duck Breast from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook on Hunan Cuisine.
Sichuan Favoured Stir-fried Duck
Serves 2 to 3 people
- 2 boneless duck breasts with skin on
- 1 tbs shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce (plus extra for seasoning)
- Groundnut oil for cooking
- 4- 6 dried chillies (the mild Chinese type)
- 1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
- 2 clove of garlic
- About 2 -3 cms of ginger
- 1 large carrot
- 100 g green beans
- 100 g mangetouts
- 1 red pepper
- 4 spring onions
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Thinly slice the duck breast at an angle, leaving the skin on.
- Marinate the duck in the rice wine, light soy sauce and 1/2 tsp of dark soy sauce, mixing well.
- Cut the carrot and red pepper into matchsticks, trim the green beans.
- Steam or blanch the carrots, green beans and mangetouts for 2 mins.
- Finely slice the white part of the spring onion and cut the green parts into 3 cm pieces.
- Finely chop the garlic and ginger.
- Snip the dried chillies in 3, discarding the seeds.
- Heat about 2 tbs oil in a large wok until smoking.
- Reduce the heat to medium and briefly toss the dried chillies and Sichuan pepper, being careful not to burn.
- Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion whites and toss to release the aromas.
- Increase the heat to high and add the marinated duck slices.
- When the duck is nearly cooked add the pepper, carrots, green beans and mange touts, stir-frying briskly to coat with the fragrant oil. Add another dash of dark soy sauce for colour.
- When the vegetables are heated through but still crisp, add the spring onion greens and mix through.
- Remove from the heat and stir in a teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Serve with boiled rice.
You can omit the Sichuan pepper and chillies if you prefer a milder flavour or you can substitute a fresh chilli or two for the dried chillies. Any combination of green vegetables, carrots and peppers will work to add colour and flavour to the dish.