Recipe: Lacquered duck breast with yuzu | The Japan Times

Although commercials featuring Christmas items have hit us since early November, there is no real set menu or tradition when it comes to Christmas celebrations in Japan. The only item that could be considered a tradition is the Christmas cake, but other than that anything goes. You can just order, but a home-cooked meal is still something special.

What I would like to offer you, especially if you are planning a romantic evening, is an elegant dish that is not your typical dinner dish and does not take a lot of effort to prepare: duck. I took inspiration from the Christmas tradition of the roast duck rather than the chicken or turkey that people opt for more often. Also, you don’t need an oven for this recipe, as it is cooked on the stovetop.

I combined the rich flavor of duck breast with the very Japanese flavors of yuzu – both fresh citrus and yuzucha jam – sake and soy sauce.

This makes a great main course with potatoes, rice, or bread, or can be served as a snack. I accompanied it with a simple salad in the red and dark green colors of the season.


For 2 people as a main course

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 20 minutes, plus standing time


For the duck:

  • 2 boneless duck breasts of 250 to 300 grams each
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 4 tablespoons of yuzucha jam
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped yuzu zest
  • the juice of two ripe yuzu fruits
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

For the salad:

  • 6 to 8 small cherry tomatoes
  • 20 grams of arugula, washed and dried (or use watercress instead)
  • 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of salt and black pepper


  1. Take the duck breast out of the refrigerator at least an hour in advance to bring it to room temperature.
  2. Cut the skin side of the duck breast in a grid. Season both sides with S&P.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the duck breasts skin side down. Fry the breasts, moving them from time to time. Throw away the excess oil that comes out of the skins from time to time.
  4. When the skin is golden brown, turn the duck breasts over and cook for another two to three minutes on the other side. Flip the breasts using tongs or baking sticks so that the edges are also golden. Remove the duck breasts from the pan and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the salad. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on their size. Toss with the torn arugula. In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and beat with a fork to make a dressing. Toss the vegetables into the dressing.
  6. Wipe down the pan to remove any excess fat. Reheat the pan over medium heat. Add the sake, water, yuzucha, yuzu juice, zest and soy sauce to the pot and bring to a boil. When the sauce is bubbling vigorously, remove the duck breasts from the foil and return them to the pan. Turn them over several times to coat them in the sauce, then remove them from the pan again. Continue cooking the sauce until it thickens and is slightly syrupy.
  7. Thinly slice the duck breasts and place them on a plate. Pour the sauce over the breasts. Arrange the salad on the side.

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