Updated: Jul 25, 2021
My inspiration when creating this dish was taken from the Japanese Yakitori Tsukune. I wanted to take the same concept of Tsukune and flip it with intense Thai flavours by adding a chilli jam and citrus to the Tsukune. As for the Tsukune I went with duck breast and chicken thigh to make things interesting and to enable a great texture. Let's cook!
To serve 2
Duck Chicken Tsukune:
1 duck breast plus skin
2 skinless chicken thighs
1 small shallot
1 lime zest
20g dried red chillies
2-3 red chillies
1/2 red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 lemongrass stalk
3cm piece galangal or ginger
2-3 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
5g tamarind pulp
fish sauce to season
1 tbsp of the chilli jam
2 tbsp light soy
2 tbsp hoisin
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white sugar
drop of water
bunch of basil
For the chilli jam the amount of chillies and which type of chillies you use will translate to how hot the jam will be. For a milder jam then use larger chillies and remove the seeds, however, for a much hotter version then use smaller chillies and add the seeds. Start by soaking 20g of dried red chillies in warm water for 15 minutes to soften then when ready roughly chop. For the fresh red chillies roughly chop then add both the fresh and dried to a food processor and pulse. We want the chillies to be pulsed until they resemble chilli flakes.
2. Next, leaving the pulsed chilli in the food processor now add 1/2 a roughly chopped red onion, 3 sliced garlic cloves, 1 brushed and finely chopped lemongrass and a diced 3cm piece of galangal. Pulse again to combine all of the ingredients until ground, however, ensuring not to form a paste as we're after a little texture.
3. Next step is to add a generous amount of oil into a pan then place onto a medium heat. Add all of the ground chillies and fry for 10 minutes whilst constantly stirring to prevent from burning. Whilst we are cooking the chillies dilute 5g of tamarind pulp with 3 tbsps of hot water and mix to form a tamarind concentrate. When the chillies become fragrant and slightly darker in colour add 2-3 tbsp of palm sugar, all of the tamarind concentrate a pinch of salt and a drop of water. Cook out the chilli jam until it reduces and becomes sticky. When ready season with fish sauce and place into a bowl to cool.
Duck Chicken Tsukune:
4. What we are looking for when making tsukune is as much texture as possible by mincing the duck and chicken with a knife opposed to a food processor. Start by removing the skin and thigh bone from the thigh. (We will will not need to use the chicken skin or bone for this recipe). When ready slice the thigh meat into thin strips then slice the strips into as small of a dice as you can. For the duck remove the skin first and again try to cut the skin into a small dice and cut the duck breast in the same way. When both meats are minced gather together with a knife and cut through until a textured meat patty is made.
5. Now to season, finely chop 1 small shallot and add to the minced meat along with the zest of 1 whole lime and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Run a knife through a few more times to incorporate all of the ingredients. In order to prevent the tsukune from falling apart begin to kneed by hand for 5 minutes to tighten up the tsukune. This may seem strange but it will help keep it together.
6. The tsukune at this point is good to go, all we need to do is to now is divide into portions and which ever shape you prefer. I like to eat something like this off a skewer, therefore, I went with rolling the tsukune into cylinders. To make shaping easier I find it best to keep my hands cold and wet. When all of the tsukune are shaped place a pan of water onto a high heat and bring up to just before boiling point. Carefully add the tsukune into the water and poach for 2-3 minutes first. When ready carefully remove from the water and place to one side to cool. By briefly poaching it will enable the tsukune to hold their shape when frying/grilling.
7. Just before we finish the dish let's add a few crispy elements by briefly deep frying some fresh basil and shallots. Add a generous amount of oil to a pan and bring the oil temperature up to 180°c. Now finely slice lengthways 2 shallots and fry until golden brown. When ready drain the shallots on kitchen paper and season with salt. For the basil remove the leaves from the stem and again add to the hot oil and fry for 20-30 seconds until crispy.
8. To finish the tsukune you can either place onto a skewer and bbq or simply fry in a pan until cooked. As its winter I went with the home friendly pan method. In a pan add a small drizzle of oil then when hot add the tsukune. Cook whilst occasionally turning for 10 minutes on a medium to high heat until cooked. When cooked place onto a tray as they are now ready to glaze.
9. To make the glaze, in a pan add 1 tbsp of the chilli jam made earlier, 2 tbsp light soy, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp white sugar and a drop of water. Bring the Glaze up to a boil then reduce until slightly thicker. When ready place the cooked tsukune onto skewers then add to the glaze until nicely coated.
10. Now to serve, to give the tsukune that char aroma when glazed I lightly blowtorched to give the essence of a bbq skewer. Serve with tsukune with the chilli jam on the side and some crispy elements of basil and fried shallots. Hope you like this simple recipe!
If you prefer you can simply only use chicken for this recipe but I would avoid using a food processor still as its really the texture that makes tsukune so delicious. As for cooking methods i would definitely bbq over a hibachi grill or bbq if I had the choice although frying in a pan works just as well. Have fun with this recipe!