Duck Day 2012 Menu: The Seven Essentials

Duck Day 2012: The Seven Essentials
Tradition holds that there are “seven essentials for Chinese life” and that these make for a civilized household in what is colloquially called “Open Door Seven Items”: wood, rice, oil, salt, soy/fermented sauces, vinegar, tea. (Some attribute this list to Confucius, but it is probably older.) This year’s menu incorporates many of these elements into each course, but each course has a featured essential.
It’s been several years since we did an Asian fusion meal for Duck Day, and my recent visits to that various Momofuku outlets (NYC Noodlebar and Ma Peche, Toronto Shoto) plus seeing David Chang speak last year had gotten my wheels turning. I’ve been plotting to do a “Seven Essentials” dim sum at some point, but I’ve been so busy haven’t gotten around to inviting people over or doing the test recipes I want to. Instead, we adopted the Seven Essentials theme to do this as a Seven Course meal, as follows: (menu and then picspam of the meal…)
Lapsang Souchong Soup Dumpling
Shanghai-style soup dumpling featuring a duck filling with lapsang souchong broth. (The soup is inside the dumpling.)
Wine pairing: Vouvray Petillant, Domaine Huet Brut 2007
Sashimi With Enoki
Yellowtail, salmon, and tuna sashimi served with seared enoki mushrooms in truffle oil and
traditional accompaniments: double-distilled soy sauce, gari, and fresh-grated wasabi.
Wine pairing: Sake “Wandering Poet” Rihaku Junmai Gijo
Hot & Sour Soup
Duck broth and chinkiang vinegar soup, served with quail egg and fried wonton skin
Flavored oils—lemongrass, hot pepper, garlic-saffron—served with vegetable matchstick dippers,
sprouts, and arugula.
Wine pairing: J. L. Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2010
Duck Confit
Duck leg confit seasoned with Szechuan peppercorn, served with Red Spiral Slaw (red cabbage beets, red onions),
and a trio of salts.
Wine pairing (for this and the next course): Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurtztraminer 2011
Tea-Smoked Duck
Duck breast, tea-smoked and served Peking “sandwich” style in a steamed bun with house-made bourbon-black soy sauce, scallion, and cucumber.
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” —Confucius
Clementine Soda with Ginger Ice and Yamomomo (Japanese miniature mountain peach)
Porcini risotto, with a poached duck egg and white truffle.
Duck-garlic-basil-marsala-wine sausage.
Wine Pairing: Azelia Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Dell’Oriolo 2010
To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness. The sixth virtue is to wash the dishes of your hosts.” —Confucius
Forbidden Rice and Coconut Milk Pudding, Brulee
Milk Oolong Ice Cream
Financiers in two flavors: chocolate and green tea
Tea and Coffee

My knife technique leveled up. Over 200 pieces from a single cucumber.

Our first attempt at the Shanghai soup dumpling. The soup is INSIDE the dumpling! It worked well except for a few that broke.

I love vegetables but despise "salad" as a usually lame-ass "easy" and cliche-ridden course. I like to deconstruct it. Here is amaranth sprouts, cucumber, sweet peppers, pea sprouts, served with the three flavored oils I made: lemongrass, garlic saffron, and hot pepper.

We decided to do a sashimi course. Yellow tail, salmon, tuna, with enoki mushrooms torched with truffle oil. With spiral shredded daikon and cucumber, house-made ginger ad fresh-grated wasabi root.

Confit of duck legs with red spiral slaw. The confit was utterly perfect, falling off the bones.

Tea-smoked duck breast being seared as it's final step before being served inside a steamed bun with bourbon-dark soy-hoisin sauce, scallion, and cucumber, "Peking Duck" style. Very much like the pork belly sandwich at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Only duck. And all ours.

Oolong was the only one of our three cats who was brave enough to join us. Here he is checking out what corwin's eating.

corwin getting ready to carbonate the Intermezzo.

Miniature ginger ice cubes to go in the Intermezzo (tangerine home-carbonated soda).

corwin drinking his intermezzo. It's looking at meeeee!!

corwin, Scliff, and me all cooking on the same stove. I'm stirring the vegetarian risotto (and taking the photo), corwin's on sausage duty, and Scliff's on duck risotto.

Duck sausages being seared, between pots of risotto (one vegetarian risotto, one with duck stock).

The plated risotto with poached duck egg and duck-garlic sausage and shaved white truffle.

Dessert being plated. Each has two financiers, one chocolate, one green tea, and will be joined by a tiny ramekin of black rice pudding and a scoop of milk oolong ice cream.

Rice pudding made with "forbidden rice" and coconut milk, ready to be sugared and bruleed.

We do every course with a wine pairing. Here are the bottles at the end...


  1. I’m thrilled and blown away. I had no idea you cook like a world-class chef. This is…wow, I really am at a loss for words.

    1. Years of practice. 🙂 It’s also that corwin, Scliff, and I make a great team. corwin and I “iron chef” it almost every night in farm share season and so we experiment a lot. And whenever we eat out, we come home and try to recreate what we had! Our Thanksgivings are a lot fancier now than they were 21 years ago when we first got together!

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