Duck with rhubarb jam and pickled cucumber

The jam keeps in the fridge for up to a week and is fab on everything from porridge to pancakes, as well as with all meat, so make double the quantities, if you’re so inclined.


Serving size


½ cucumber, unpeeled and cut into julienne strips
4 limes: shave the peel of 1 into 6 wide strips, then juice all 4 (you need 60ml)
About 50g caster sugar 
2 duck breasts, skin on and fridge-cold
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely crushed
2 tbsp light soy sauce
200g rhubarb, cut widthways into 4cm pieces (if the stalks are thicker than 2cm, cut them in half lengthways, too)
1 hibiscus teabag (or berry or rosehip)
5 cardamom pods, lightly bashed
10g coriander leaves, shredded


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, half the lime peel, half the lime juice, and a quarter-teaspoon each of sugar and salt.

  2. Using a very sharp knife, lightly score the skin of the duck breasts diagonally at 2cm intervals (do not cut down to the flesh), then rub the five-spice and cumin all over the breasts. In a medium bowl, whisk a tablespoon and a half of sugar with the soy sauce, then add the duck, massage the marinade into the breasts and transfer to the fridge.

  3. Put the rhubarb, hibiscus tea and cardamom in a small saucepan with the rest of the lime peel and juice, the remaining two tablespoons of sugar and 100ml cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer on a medium-high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the rhubarb breaks down to a jammy consistency. Leave to cool down to just warm, then remove and discard the teabag, cardamom and lime peel.

  4. Pat dry the duck breasts with kitchen towel, reserving the marinade for later. Lay the breasts skin side down in an unheated medium-sized nonstick frying pan. Turn the heat to medium and leave to fry for 15 minutes, tipping the pan to remove the fat as you go. The skin should be crisp and golden brown, not burnt, so if you feel the heat is getting too high without the fat being rendered enough, turn down the heat. Flip over the breasts and carry on frying on medium-low heat for another five to 10 minutes, so that it’s browned on all sides and cooked pink within. Leaving the pan on the heat, transfer the meat to a board and leave to rest skin side up for five minutes.

  5. Turn down the heat under the pan as low as possible and add the reserved marinade. Stir it around in the pan for a minute, until it reduces and thickens – you want about one tablespoon of liquid – then set aside.

  6. Drain the pickled cucumbers, discard the lime peel, then toss with the shredded coriander.

  7. Using a very sharp knife, cut the breasts into 0.5cm-thick slices (tip the resting and cutting juices into the marinade pan), then arrange on four (or two) plates, slightly overlapping. Drizzle the reduced soy on top and serve with a spoonful of jam and some cucumber pickle.