Crispy Duck Spring Rolls

, from Issue #32. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Crispy Duck Spring Rolls


2 single, boneless duck breasts
20 grams dried shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 cup julienne or grated carrot
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To cook
large spring roll wrappers
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons water
vegetable oil for frying

To serve
sweet chilli sauce, plum sauce or nuoc mam 

Nuoc mam
2 fresh red chillis, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
120 mls water
50 mls fish sauce
50 mls lime juice


Put the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. Drain then squeeze out the excess water. Chop finely.

Using a sharp knife, lightly score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern and season both sides.

Heat a sauté pan over a low heat. Place the duck, skin side down and cook for 10 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp and a lot of fat has rendered into the pan. Turn the duck over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The duck should be pink but not raw in the centre.

Transfer to a plate and leave to cool. Don’t wash the pan.

Drain off most of the duck fat, leaving only 2 tablespoons in the pan. Increase the heat and add the sesame oil.

Add the mushrooms, garlic, cabbage, carrot, spring onions and ginger and stir fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until just wilted. Combine the cornflour, Shaoxing cooking wine and soy sauce to
make a smooth paste. Stir into the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Season and cool.

Remove the duck skin and discard. Slice the meat thinly against the grain then cut into long, thin strips. Add to the vegetables with any resting juices.

To cook: Combine the cornflour and water to make a smooth paste.

Lay a spring roll wrapper on the bench with one of the corners facing you and brush the edges with the cornflour paste.

Place a heaped tablespoon of the mixture along the bottom third of the wrapper then roll up tightly, folding in the edges as you roll. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Make sure the seams are tightly sealed so it doesn’t unroll during cooking.

Heat 4 cm of vegetable oil in a wok or deep saucepan to 170˚C. Cook the spring rolls, in batches, for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen towels.

Nuoc MamCombine all the ingredients in a bowl and adjust for taste if necessary with extra sugar or fish sauce.

To serve: Arrange on a platter and serve hot with sweet chilli sauce, plum sauce or nuoc mam. Makes about 12

Cook’s tip: If you don’t have a deep fry thermometer, you can test the temperature by dropping a piece of bread into the hot oil. When it is the right temperature it should turn golden in 30 seconds.

Pantry notes
Packets of frozen spring roll wrappers are available from Asian food stores. They come in small and large sizes.

Shaoxing cooking wine:  (pronounced SHAU-sing) This wine for cooking is derived from glutinous rice. The flavour enriches braised dishes and marinades. Available from Asian food stores.