Crispy Duck Lettuce Wraps With Pickled Carrots

Yesterday was the so called Glorious Twelfth. Depends on your viewpoint, I suppose. Less than wonderful if you're a grouse, as it's the start of the shooting season. I came to grouse late in life, and I can certainly see what the fuss is about, but prices are always inflated immediately after twelfth in the mad rush to get the first one on the table. I believe this has been a poor year for grouse, so the cost may stay high all season. I shall consult with the experts at Castle Game Scotland and report in due course.

It did, however, set me thinking about feathered food, and duck is a great favourite. Not only are duck legs easier to cook than breasts, they are a fraction of the price. This recipe is a little fiddly as there are two or three stages, but it's simple enough, and does have the wow factor. Cook the duck in advance to allow it to cool. You will need an oven proof frying pan, which failing a preheated oven tray to which to transfer the duck after browning.

Make the pickled carrots the day before. You don't need many for the dish. Make up a batch and use the rest in a salad (see below). The recipe which I have stipulates far too much liquid. Prep your carrots in advance, then work out how much liquid you'll need to cover them completely. Make more if you want to pickle other veg. Note that this a quick pickle, not one for long term preservation. They will last in sterilised jars in the fridge for 3 - 5 days.

Pickled Carrots

Pickling Brine


Water; cider vinegar; caster sugar;  (see below for quantities), salt.

For the pickle


3 medium carrots,  peeled and shaved into ribbons;  10g coriander seeds toasted; 10g fennel seeds, toasted; 1 star anise;


Prepare the carrots and put in a container large enough to allow them to be covered with the pickling liquor. Mix 6 parts water with 4 parts cider vinegar and 3 parts caster sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Heat gently, stirring occasionally. When the sugar and salt have melted, add the star anise, coriander seeds and fennel seeds and bring to the boil. Remove the star anise and pour the boiling liquid over the carrots then leave to cool. Refrigerate for three hours.

Crispy Duck Lettuce Wraps (makes about 8 wraps)

1 duck leg; 8 Little Gem lettuce leaves (you may need two lettuces to ensure you get enough leaves which are big enough);  Hoi Sin Sauce (shop bought is fine); pickled carrots, cut into small pieces (see above).


To cook the duck leg preheat the oven to 180˚C/Mark 4. Heat the frying pan over a medium heat. There is no need for any oil. Make sure that the duck leg is at room temperature, and pat it dry. Place the leg skin side down and leave until the skin is a golden brown, and some fat is coming out. Resist the temptation to fiddle with it. Turn and brown the other side.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 90 minutes. When the duck is cooked, remove the skin and place it (the skin) in small pieces on a separate tray. Increase the oven temperature to 200˚C/Mark 6. Put the duck skin in the oven till it crisps up. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. Leave to cool. Shred the duck leg meat.

When everything is cold, assemble the dish. (This will take longer than you think.) In each lettuce leaf add a generous teaspoonful or two of Hoi Sin sauce, evenly spread. Add a layer of shredded duck meat, then some pieces of pickled carrot. Top with pieces of crispy skin.

This makes a good starter, or part of a buffet meal. Encourage people to eat it with their fingers (and to lick them afterwards).

Sarah Mellersh's Pickled Carrot Salad


Pickled carrots (funnily enough); dressing - read on.

For the Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed; thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated; 45 ml cider vinegar; 10g caster sugar; 1 tsp sesame oil (if you don't have sesame oil go and buy some - it really makes the dish); salt.

For the Garnish

10 mint leaves, roughly torn; small bunch of coriander, finely chopped.


Mix the dressing ingredients together and salt to taste. Put the carrots in a bowl, shaking off any excess pickling liquor. Add the dressing and mix well. Garnish with the herbs, toss and serve.




  1. Janet Hood on 13th August 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Mmmmm have you discovered Gressingham’s the duck people’s plum and hoisin sauce I get mine in Sainsburys mmmmwith a dish of this sort

  2. L on 13th August 2021 at 8:34 pm

    They are a big hit here and jolly yum

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