Duck Leg Confit:
1. Let’s begin with the duck confit, start by seasoning the duck legs completely with 2 tbsps of 5 spice, salt and black pepper. Place the duck legs into a medium sized saucepan then add enough rapeseed oil to cover (approx 600ml). Next add 15g of sliced ginger, 4 whole garlic cloves, 1 tsp juniper berries, 3 star anise and 1 tsp of whole black peppercorns. Place onto a medium heat and bring the oil temperature up to approximately 93°c – 95°c then at this temperature confit the duck for 1 1/2 hours.
3. To bring the duck to life and to add a little extra texture to the filling we can now add a few aromatics, sauces and vegetables to the filling. Wash and remove the leaves from 1/2 sweetheart cabbage then add to a saucepan of boiling water, blanch for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. When cooked drain and chill under cold running water to stop the cooking process then cut the cabbage leaves into a small dice. Add the diced cabbage to the confit duck along with 4 minced spring onions, 2 tbsp light soy, 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, 3 tbsp of sesame oil and finally season with salt and some fresh black pepper. Mix well then adjust the seasoning if needed. We are looking for a filling that is neither too dry or too wet that still holds some texture from the duck. Cover the mix and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
4. Now that we have our filling made up we can move onto making up the dumpling wrappers. To save on time and reading the next few points you can simply use frozen store brought wrappers, however, its fun to make them from scratch and super simple. Begin by adding 390g of dumpling flour into a large mixing bowl, then in a separate jug add 190ml of warm water and a 1 tsp of salt. Mix in the salt until dissolved then gradually add to the flour whilst constantly mixing. When all of the salt water has been added begin to knead by hand until 1 cohesive ball of dough is formed. When set, cover with clingfilm and allow the dough to rest for 45-60 minutes.
5. When the dough has rested, place onto a work top and knead the dough again for 4-5 minutes to smooth out and form a ball. Next create a hole in the centre of the dough using your thumb to create a doughnut shaped piece of dough. Start to stretch out the dough to make an evenly shaped larger ring. Cut the ring in half to make 2 logs of dough, then roll the each piece of dough until it becomes larger and has a thickness of approximately 2 inches. When ready cut the dough into 16-24 (size depending) equal sized pieces then dust lightly with cornflour to prevent them from sticking. Place the pieces of dough to one side and cover with clingfilm then we are now set to make up the mandu.
6. To make up the wrappers start by taking out a few pieces of the dough then roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten the dough with your palm to form each piece into flat disks then use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough to make larger thin circular wrappers. The wrappers size will depend on how many pieces of dough you have, however out of 16 pieces the wrappers were approximately 5 inches in diameter and approximately 1/8 of a inch in thickness. Repeat this for all of the dough then dust each wrapper lightly again with cornflour and stack them on top of each other.
9. Now that the mandu are all made up we can begin to cook, for the broth start by adding the duck bones to a pan lightly drizzled with cooking oil and place onto a high heat. Roast the bones until caramelised then add 10g of sliced ginger, 3 sliced shallots and 2 chopped shiitakes then continue to pan fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Next slice 2 plums into half, remove the seeds and add these to the pan also flesh side down. Next deglaze the pan with 1 tbsp of sake, 1 tbsp of light soy, 1 tbsp of mirin, 1 tbsp sushi vinegar, 1 tsp of white sugar and 1 tsp of red miso. Briefly reduce the liquid then add 300mls of water and reduce the sauce again by half.
10. When reduced, pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a fresh saucepan. Adjust the seasoning if needed by adding salt or additional sushi vinegar then when happy place onto a low heat to keep the broth warm.
11. All that’s left now is to cook the dumplings and to fry a few shiitakes to finish the dish, place a large saucepan onto a high heat then add a drizzle of cooking oil. Place the mandu dumplings in batches flat side down into the pan then fry until the base becomes nice and golden brown. When ready add approximately 150ml of water around the dumplings and place a lid over the top. Allow the dumplings to steam for 8-10 minutes depending on size and when all of the liquid has evaporated they are ready.