Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside,
2, Jalan P5/5,
Presint 5, Putrajaya.
Tel. 03-8890 0000.
Business hours: 7pm to 10.30pm.
COOKING duck can be a plucky matter. First and foremost, there is the gamey issue. So strong is its flavour that the taste can be a put off. Let’s not forget about rubbery texture too. Dead as the duck may be, it can still put up a tough fight!
But when you’re young and adventurous like 32-year-old Ahmad Zaidi Abd Razak (pic), the sous chef at The Village in Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, life is about letting it roll like water on a duck’s back.
Why waste precious minutes on fearing you’d ruffle someone’s feathers?
In presenting the latest dining promotion at the lakeside restaurant, Ahmad Zaidi has created a series of appetisers and main courses featuring duck and apricots.
“Most restaurants will probably feature fish, beef or lamb for promotions. I think this has become too common,” said Zaidi as a way of explaining his choice of ingredients.
A native of Kampung Kerinchi, Ahmad Zaidi, graduated with a culinary diploma from Unitar before stints at Secret Recipe and Shangri-La Hotel’s Lafite where he served under George Jardine. His affinity for this water bird, he surmised, may have been genetically motivated.
“My grandmother is Chinese,” revealed Ahmad Zaidi who had seen and eaten his fair share of duck dishes from her kitchen.
Definitely, cooking duck follows a set protocol.
The first thing to do is to locate the preen gland. This is situated at the base of the duck’s tail where oil is naturally secreted for birds to rub on their feathers. Remove this and you eliminate the gamey issue.
Further treatment with brine and an overnight soak further improves the situation. This also has a tenderising effect on the meat.
Basics done, the only limit is the sky.
For appetisers, Ahmad Zaidi has come up with a cold amuse bouche of diced smoked duck with braised apricot and a honey dew compote.
Arranged in layers, a fine brunoise of chillies adds an element of bling in the braised apricot, in addition to giving it a spicy tang. This is followed by the refreshing notes of lemon in the honeydew compote.
However, if its a meatier start you’re looking for, go for the smoked duck slices. This comes with drizzles of honey lemon and orange glaze. As sides, sun dried apricots and tomatoes make fitting accompaniments.
Of worthy mention is the duck roulade featured in the main course. Grilled thigh meat is flavoured with drippings of a rich, thick relish of melt-in-your-mouth apricot chunks and jazzed up with orange juice, fresh thyme and dried chilli flakes.
The duck roulade is best described as luxuriously nutritious because under the crisp skin, is a uniform layer of fat.
This is where the kitchen alchemy takes place to create a tasty partnership between meat and sauce.
But if it’s lean that you’re looking for, there is the duck leg in lemon thyme confit.
According to Ahmad Zaidi, preparing the dish took him seven hours of slow simmering time over a constant heat of 140 degree Celcius. This gives the meat plenty of time to absorb the finer nuances of herbs and fruit zest as it cooks.
“You will love how the tender meat just falls off the bone,” said Ahmad Zaidi of the result.
A warm apricot clafoutis served with a rich coconut ice cream and fresh berries ends the meal on a sweet note.
The coconut ice cream did wonders as accompaniment to the baked flan and made an unforgettable impression.
Though attempts were made to locate the pastry chef responsible for this heavenly concoction, we were told that he had called it a day. We suspect, the hotel is in fact, hiding its best kept secret.
Overall, the duck dishes is expected to stir things up in the serene setting of this hotel’s lakeside restaurant. Afterall, duck meat is known for its potent effects. Coupled by the surreal bluish tinge of the restaurant’s interiors, you may feel the urge to perform a cartwheel or two at the end of the meal!
The Village Duck and Apricot promotion is on till March 13.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro