Crispy-Skinned Roast Duck with Lychee, Watermelon and Watercress Salad

. December, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Crispy-Skinned Roast Duck with Lychee, Watermelon and Watercress Salad

Served warmish, this exotic salad with hints of chilli and lime, shredded kaffir lime leaves and pomegranate seeds explodes in the mouth with summer freshness. It sings ‘beach’ to me.

Serves: 6


2 x 2 kilogram oven-ready ducks
sea salt
small piece of ginger (as big as your thumb), sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves
3 tablespoons honey, warm
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
To assemble
4 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
20 kaffir lime leaves, ground or very finely chopped
2 baby cos lettuces, leaves separated
large bunch watercress, ends trimmed, 
1 pomegranate (optional), seeds removed
750 gram wedge of watermelon, peeled and cubed
565 gram tin lychees, drained and halved
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 hot red chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds if preferred)


Preheat oven to 140°C. 

Duck: Remove giblets from the cavity of each duck. Cut off the parson’s nose, making sure you remove the two putty-coloured fat glands towards the back of it (they’re about as big as a small fingernail), and any fat, and trim the wing tips. Pat dry. Season each cavity with ¼ teaspoon salt. Place half the sliced ginger and 3 kaffir lime leaves in each cavity. 

Prick the skin of each duck all over at least 50 times, with a sharp metal skewer, concentrating on the fatty areas. 

Put the ducks breast side up on an oiled rack set in a large roasting tin. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 2 hours then increase the oven temperature to 190°C. When hot, roast the ducks for a further 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.

Glaze: Mix the honey, lime juice and chilli sauce in a small bowl. Remove the ducks from the oven and brush with glaze. Roast for a further 15 minutes, until a deep golden colour. Remove from the oven, drape loosely with aluminium foil and rest for 30 minutes. 

To assemble: Slice the duck. Cut off the legs by putting a knife between the ball and socket joint. Remove the breast meat and wings by sliding the knife between the breast meat and breastbone and cutting in between the ball and socket joint of the wings. Cut breast meat pieces in half, or slice, and cut leg joint in half if preferred.

Whisk lemon oil, lime juice and salt together in a small bowl. Choose two platters large enough to hold the ducks and salad. Put cos leaves on platters, then the watercress and watermelon. Sprinkle with half the chives and chilli. Lay duck meat on top, nestling pieces of lychee here and there. Scatter with the pomegranate seeds, more chives and chilli. Add the prepared kaffir lime leaves to the dressing, whisk and then spoon over everything. Serve immediately.