Salty, Sweet, Bitter, Sour, And Umami. All of The Main Flavours Packed into This Asian Inspired Wombok Salad. You Simply Can’t Go Wrong with A Juicy Roast Duck Topped with Wheels of Sweetened Ruby Red Grapefruit.
What is Wombok?
Wombok is Chinese cabbage. They are known by many different names including Napa cabbage, celery cabbage, sui choy, wong bok, and Chinese leaf.
Wombok has been part of Chinese cooking for quite some time and make regular appearances in stir fries, noodles and broth-based soups. They also make a great alternative to lettuce and have increasingly been eaten raw which have given rise to more wombok salad recipes.
If you’ve ever eaten traditional kimchi, you would have come across wombok. The Chinese cabbage is the most popular vegetable used to make this fermented dish.
Unlike the rest of the cabbage family, wombok stems have water content, is crunchy and is sweeter. It doesn’t have peppery and sometimes bitter notes like the cabbage.
Apart from how good it tastes, I like wombok for 2 other reasons. Firstly, they are very affordable and you can now buy them halves which makes it even cheaper. Does also mean less wastage as I never know what to do with it all! Secondly, they have a pretty good shelf life so I’m able to keep till next weekend for a different dish if I didn’t want to make another Chinese cabbage salad.
Why Did I Choose to Buy A Roast Duck Instead of Roasting My Own?
For this duck salad, I chose to buy a whole roast duck from the Chinese restaurant instead of roasting my own for several reasons. I grew up eating Chinese BBQ meats from roast pork, to BBQ roast pork (char siu), roast duck and BBQ spare ribs. The restaurants simply do it better and I didn’t think I personally could do it justice if I tried it at home.
It is also a laborious process of marinating, roasting, overnight hanging etc… and where would I hang a whole duck in my kitchen! LOL! And the cost of buying a whole roast duck is not so far off from buying all the ingredients that its almost negligible. Leave it to the experts I say!
Where Can I Buy A BBQ Roast Duck?
It’s easy to tell if a Chinese restaurant sells BBQ meats as you’ll see it hanging by the window, on display for everyone to see. Chinatown or suburbs with a big concentration of Asian restaurants should have at least one of these restaurants.
How to Order BBQ Roast Duck?
Prior to meeting me, my partner never knew how to order BBQ roast duck. Now he can do it in Cantonese. The tone needs work but they get the gist and it always amuses the man with the massive cleaver!
You can order in 2 main ways. You can order it as a dish on the menu which is BBQ roast duck with rice and that is what it will actually say. Or you can have it as a separate dish on its own. You can order it, just like you would chicken, in halves or whole. When you do this however, they always cut it up. As I want the duck to be left intact, you actually have to tell them not to chop it up. They will wrap it up for you in grease proof paper. And every order of BBQ roast duck comes with the roast duck sauce and its important to make sure they do give it to you. That sauce is gold…… so good.
The price of the duck is usually displayed by the window next to all the BBQ meats or in the menu.
Why I Love Roast Duck, Caramelised Grapefruit and Wombok Salad
I don’t always make salads as an accompaniment. Like many of you, I also eat salads as a main course and I wanted to create an Asian inspired salad with a quintessential Chinese ingredient. To enhance the savoury notes and give it a bit of a kick, I included the vibrant coloured ruby red grapefruit. I knew that it would be too overpowering a flavour so I thought I’d caramelise it to sweeten the salad.
To create the tang, I decided to make a tamarind dressing for this Chinese cabbage salad. This adds another layer of flavour in addition to the umami rich duck and bitter sweet grapefruit. A lot going on without over complicating the recipe.
How to Make Roast Duck, Caramelised Grapefruit and Wombok Salad
How to Prepare the Roast Duck
As mentioned above, buy a whole Chinese roast duck from your local Chinese restaurant. Tell them not to cut it up and make sure they give you the roast duck sauce to go with it. Well in all my time of buying roast duck I have never had any issues with the restaurant forgetting it but just to be sure!
Time to shred the duck. Discard the skin, fat and bones. Tearing the flesh off the bones can be a bit tough in areas but be sure to get it all as we need all the duck meat we can get. In a medium size mixing bowl, pour the sauce over the duck meat, season with pepper and mix thoroughly.
How to Caramelise the Grapefruit
Moving onto the grapefruit, remove the skin and slice into large round wheels. Scatter half the brown sugar evenly across all the grapefruit and using a blow torch, caramelise it. Then do the same for the other side with the rest of the brown sugar.
If some of the wheels are simply too big, you can cut them in half. The sugar not only gives that grapefruit that golden-brown goodness, but it also softens the bitterness.
Prepare the Rest of The Ingredients
Roughly chop the leaf part of the coriander. Add into the bowl of shredded duck.
Thinly slice the wombok leaves width wise from the base to the tip of the leaf. Add into the bowl of shredded duck as well. Mix everything together.
With the oranges, remove the skin and cut into slivers.
How to Make the Tamarind Dressing
Peel a small ginger and finely grate.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, plum sauce, tamarind paste and grated ginger until well combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
Place half the mixed salad of shredded duck, coriander and wombok on the platter. Gently place half the orange slivers and half the caramelised grapefruit in and above the salad. Add half the portion of dressing and season with pepper.
Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients on top.
This wombok salad with the tangy tamarind dressing is a serve of strong, sophisticated flavours. You have to eat all the components together so that they are all working in unison. This salad recipe sure holds its own grounds and way too good to share.
More Dairy Free Salad Recipes
Roast Duck, Caramelised Grapefruit and Wombok Salad
- 1 bbq roast duck, with sauce
- 8-10 wombok leaves
- 2 oranges
- 1 grapefruit, ruby red
- 1 coriander, bunch
- pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp plum sauce
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- ½ tsp ginger, grated
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Buy a whole roast duck from your Chinese restaurant. Tell them not to cut it up and leave it whole. Ensure they include the roast duck sauce. Shred the roast duck. Discard skin, fat and bones. In a medium sized mixing bowl, marinate the shredded flesh with the roast duck sauce. Season with pepper.
- Roughly chop the leaf part of the coriander. Add into the bowl of shredded duck.
- Thinly slice the wombok leaves width wise from the base to the tip of the leaf. Add into the bowl of shredded duck.
- Remove the skin from the oranges and cut into slivers.
- Remove the skin of the ruby red grapefruit and slice into large round wheels. Lay the grapefruit slices on a baking tray. Scatter evenly with 2 tbsp of brown sugar and use a blowtorch to caramelise it. Repeat on the other side with the remaining 2 tbsp of brown sugar. Should take about 2-3 minutes each side. Cut the larger wheels into half if they are too big.
- Peel a small ginger and finely grate.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, plum sauce, tamarind paste and grated ginger until well combined.
- Place half the mixed salad of shredded duck, coriander and wombok on the platter. Gently place half the orange slivers and half the caramelised grapefruit in and above the salad. Add half the portion of dressing and season with pepper.
- Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients on top.
- If you prefer to use duck breast, remove the skin and marinade it with soy sauce, char siu sauce and Chinese rice wine. Pan fry each side for about 2-3 minutes each, depending how pink you like your duck. Slice thinly.
- Regular grapefruit can be used if you can’t find ruby red grapefruit. But note that it is not as sweet.
- If you can’t get a hold of tamarind, you can substitute it with a mixture of lime juice and equal parts brown sugar.