One of the ultimate, and most charming, fusion foods, I’ve picked up an interest lately in the flavours of the Caribbean – with a rich mixed history and many colonial settlers, the tropical region’s cuisine is a unique blend of African, Chinese, Spanish, Indian, Dutch, English and South American flavours.
Something about the Chinese influence on Caribbean food just works so well – the Chinese introduced the Caribbean to soy sauce, woks, noodles and rice – essentials in the region now – and their duet of sweet, sour and spicy flavours creates such a vibrancy in the dishes that’s impossible to resist.
Likewise, interest in that ultimate refresher – watermelon – has begun to rise, with our sister company, trends platform Flavour Feed, betting that Beyonce’s recent investment in watermelon water is going to propel the ingredient’s popularity – maybe even to near coconut-like status.
Its juiciness and freshness makes it the perfect foil for BBQs and salty-spicy meats, and even the rind can be put to good use – and packs a crunchy, piquant punch when pickled.
So with Notting Hill carnival on its way and London’s temperature soaring, I’ve created a punchy Caribbean-Chinese jerk duck, blackened corn and watermelon salad – full of sunny vitality and perfect for summer nights – the duck and hoisin sauce a nod to the cuisine’s Chinese roots. In addition, I’ve shared a pickled watermelon rind recipe, which pairs well with the salad but is also great with cold meats and cheeses – a little taste of the tropics, and ideal for afternoon summer snacking.
Jerk Duck, Blackened Corn, Watermelon & Hoisin Dressing
1 x onion, finely diced
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x tbsp of freshly picked thyme leaves
1 x tbsp brown sugar
1 x tsp nutmeg
1 x tsp ground cinnamon
1 x tsp ground allspice
2 x scotch bonnet chillies, halved, seeded and chopped
1 x lime, juiced
2 x tablespoon of soy sauce
For the salad:
4 x large duck legs
½ x chilled watermelon, skin removed, flesh chopped
2 x fresh corn on the cobs in their husks
1 x large bunch of coriander, leaves picked and stalk chopped
3 x tbsp hoisin sauce
1 x tbsp fish sauce
2 x red chillies, de seeded and finely chopped
2 x tbsp chopped pickled watermelon rind (see recipe below)
3 x limes, juiced
I x lime, zested
Wun tun chips deep-fried in hot oil until crisp.
1.) Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste.
2.) Rub the paste into the duck legs and marinate overnight.
1.) Soak the corn on the cob (husk removed) in cold water for 30 minutes, then grill over hot charcoal grill for 30 minutes, turning frequently until cooked through and blackened around the edges.
2.) Let it cool enough to handle and then take the corn off the cob with a sharp knife, then put into a large bowl.
3.) Preheat oven to 160 C.
4.) Place a wire rack on a roasting tin.
5.) Rub the marinade off the duck skin and dry with kitchen paper, then place the duck legs skin side up on the roasting rack.
6.) Roast the duck legs for 1¾ – 2 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and the skin is crisp (when the duck is cooked the juices should run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the leg).
7.) Remove from the oven, then let them rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
8.) In the large bowl with the blackened corn, mix together the chopped watermelon, pickled watermelon rind, chopped coriander and the chopped chillies (to taste).
9.) When the duck legs have cooled, flake the meat from the bone and add it to the bowl.
10.) Make a dressing with the hoisin sauce, fish sauce and lime juice.
11.) Dress the duck and watermelon with the hoisin dressing, and season to taste.
12.) Serve whilst the watermelon is cold and the duck meat is still warm, and garnish with crisp fried wun tun chips.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
950 x g watermelon rind (including ½ inch of red flesh left on the rind), cut into pieces about 1 inch square (approximately half of the rind from a seedless-sized watermelon)
1 x cup vinegar (rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar or plain white vinegar)
½ x cup water
1 x cup sugar
2½ x tsp table salt or 3¾ teaspoons salt
1 x star anise
1 x two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Preparing the watermelon rind for pickling – a great summertime companion
1.) Cut or scoop out the flesh from half a watermelon, saving for another use.
2.) Leave about ½ inch of red flesh on the rind (optional, but colourful and tasty).
3.) Cut rind into 1 inch strips, and using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove the bright green watermelon skin from the rind.
4.) Cut peeled strips into 1 inch pieces, and continue peeling and cutting the rind until all done.
5.) Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, star anise, and ginger in a saucepan large enough to contain these ingredients.
6.) Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
7.) When this mixture reaches a boil, add the watermelon rind. Return to boil, then simmer for 1 minute.
8.) Remove pan from heat and cool for one hour.
9.) Transfer the watermelon rind to a plastic container (or canning jar). Add as much of the vinegar mixture as will fit in the jar (it will be all or most of it).
10.) Refrigerate. You can eat the watermelon rind in another hour or two, but it tastes better after its been thoroughly chilled.