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This Orange Gochujang Duck Breast with Quick-Pickled Onions is super easy, impressive and an absolute explosion of flavour. The orange gochujang glaze has the perfect balance of sweet, savory, spicy, and sour flavours, and the slightly crunchy and acidic quick-pickled onions help cut through the richness of the duck. If you’re not a fan of duck you can substitute skin-on chicken thigh or breast, your favourite cut of steak, seafood or even a thick-cut pork chop.
Ingredients You Need for Orange Gochujang Duck Breast
- Florida Orange Juice: I use 100% Florida Orange Juice because it’s naturally sweet with no added sugar and the citrus adds a delicious acidity and tang that pairs beautifully with the duck and gochujang. We keep a big pitcher of Florida OJ in our fridge and enjoy a glass daily as a way to stay hydrated and help support our immune systems. Just one 8-ounce glass of Florida Orange Juice provides 100% of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C and is a good source potassium, folate and thiamin, as well as vitamin D (in fortified juices).
- Duck Breast: This recipe calls for boneless, skin-on duck breast, which is usually how it’s sold in markets and butcher shops. If you wanted to substitute bone-in duck breast, it will most likely take a little bit longer to cook.
- Gochujang: This fermented Korean chili paste is a staple in Korean cuisine and will absolutely transform the glaze for these duck breasts in the best way possible. It’s a bit spicy, funky, packed with deep, umami flavours and a hint of sweetness. It’s not Paleo or Whole30, so feel free to omit it or substitute your favourite chile peppers (fresh or dried) if you’re following either of those protocols.
- Ground Coriander: In addition to salt and pepper, I like to season the duck breasts with a pinch of ground coriander. It adds a bit of earthiness and also pairs really well with the orange juice.
- Coconut Aminos: This is my favourite naturally gluten-free and grain-free soy sauce substitute. It’s not as savoury or salty as soy sauce and it has the addition of being slightly sweet, making it perfect for glazes. As the coconut aminos reduces, the sweetness and savouriness intensifies and concentrates.
- Honey: Adding a bit of honey to the orange gochujang duck breast glaze will help balance the heat from the chile paste and also thicken the sauce as it reduces. If you want to keep this recipe Paleo and Whole30, you can just omit the honey altogether.
- Rice Vinegar: Adding a splash of rice vinegar will help cut through the richness of the fatty duck breast and also bring some of the other ingredients in the glaze to life.
- Ginger and Garlic: A combination of finely grated ginger and garlic add a big pop of flavour to the glaze.
- Whole Grain Mustard: I love the look and texture of grainy mustard in this recipe. If you want a smoother glaze, you can substitute Dijon mustard.
- Grass-Fed Butter: This is optional, but if you want to add a rich and glossy finish to the Orange Gochujang Glaze, stir in some cold butter after the sauce has reduced. This is a French technique called “monté au beurre”, which translates to “mounted with butter.”
- Sesame Oil: The trick to using sesame oil in a sauce like this is to stir it in at the very end with the heat off. This will preserve most of the aroma and flavour of the oil.
- Fresh Chives: To add colour and a very mellow garlicky flavour you can garnish the dish with some finely chopped fresh chives.
How To Make the Quick-Pickled Onions
Making quick-pickled onions at home is a very simple and, you guessed it, quick process! Not only do they add a beautiful and vibrant pop of colour to the dish, the acidity and crunch help balance the richness of the duck and sweetness of the glaze.
- Thinly slice some red onions using a sharp knife or mandolin.
- Add the onions to a tall jar and cover with equal parts rice vinegar and boiling water.
- Season the onions with a pinch of salt and a few whole black peppercorns.
- Loosely cover with a lid and let them sit for 30 minutes or until they become bright pink and slightly crunchy.
The Secret to Perfectly Cooked Duck Breast
Follow these steps to ensure you get perfectly cooked duck breast every single time.
- Use a Thermometer: Going off of look and touch is OK if you’re a seasoned cook, but for best results I recommend using a digital thermometer. You can use a wireless, bluetooth model like this MEATER probe, which will help you track the cooking process from the beginning. Or you can use a digital thermometer that gives you instant readings.
- Score the Skin: Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. This helps the fat to render and the skin to crisp up.
- Season the Duck: I like to season the skin side with salt only so that it doesn’t discolour or burn. The meat side can be seasoned with salt, pepper and coriander, or any other spices you would like to use.
- Start In a Cold Pan: This is by far the most important tip! Start with the duck breast in a COLD, dry skillet, skin side-down. Turn the heat to medium and let the pan gradually heat up. This will help render as much fat from the skin as possible while gently cooking the centre.
- Use a Kitchen Weight: You can use a fancy metal chef press, a spare pan or even a heavy duty pyrex to evenly press down the duck breast. This will ensure maximum contact with the pan, resulting in an even browning and rendering of fat across the surface of the duck.
- Flip and Sear: Once the skin is crispy and golden brown, flip the duck breast and sear the other side for a few more minutes. Adjust the heat if needed.
- Finish in the Oven (Optional): If the duck breast is thick or you’re using a bone-in breaset, you can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (375°F) to finish cooking to your desired level of doneness. This is typically for 5-10 minutes.
- Rest and Slice: Allow the duck breast to rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This helps the juices redistribute.
Remember that the cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the duck breast and your desired level of doneness. Use a meat thermometer for accurate and consistent results.
If you’re not the biggest fan of duck, you can substitute any of the following options. Just keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of protein and thickness.
- Skin-on Chicken Breasts (bone-in or boneless)
- Skin-on Chicken Thighs (bone-in or boneless)
- Pork Chops (bone-in or boneless)
- Your favourite cut of beef steak
- Shrimp (shell-on or removed)
- Salmon (skin-on or skinless)
Equipment You Need to Make Orange Gochujang Duck Breast
This recipe was created in partnership with Florida Department of Citrus. All opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.
Orange Gochujang Duck Breast with Quick-Pickled Onions
For the Quick Pickled Onions:
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
For the Orange Gochujang Duck Breast:
- 1 cup Florida Orange Juice
- 2 8- ounce boneless duck breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon gochujang, plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish
For the Quick Pickled Onions:
- In a mason jar, combine the onions, vinegar, salt, peppercorns and boiling water. Stir to incorporate, cover loosely and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once cooled, they can be refrigerated up to 5 days.
For the Orange Gochujang Duck Breast:
- Using a sharp knife, lightly score the fat of each duck breast in a crosshatch pattern making sure not to penetrate the flesh. Evenly season the fat side with salt then flip and season the meat side with salt, ground coriander and pepper. Place the duck, fat-side up, on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for 4 hours to overnight.
- In a bowl, combine the orange juice, coconut aminos, honey, mustard, vinegar, gochujang, garlic and ginger. Whisk until well combined then set aside.
- Remove the duck breasts from the fridge and pat them dry with paper towel. Transfer the duck to a cold pan, fat-side down, and place it over a medium heat. Weigh the duck breasts down with a kitchen weight or small pot to maintain even contact with the pan and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, around 8 minutes. Flip and cook the other side while basting with the rendered fat, until the thickest part of each breast registers 135F for a medium centre, around 4 more minutes. Transfer the duck to a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Pour all of the rendered fat through a sieve into a jar and reserve for future use. Return the pan to a medium heat and pour in the orange gochujang mixture. Cook the sauce, stirring and lifting any brown bits off the bottom off the pan, until it has reduced down by at least 1/2 in volume and can coat the back of a spoon, around 10 minutes. Add the cold butter and stir continuously until emulsified. Turn off the heat, add the sesame oil and stir through to combine. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired.
- Thinly slice the duck breasts and fan them out over a bed of steamed jasmine rice. Spoon the orange gochujang sauce over of the duck and garnish with quick-pickled onions and chives. Serve immediately.