Plum Sauce Duck

Plum Sauce Duck

Why don’t we eat more duck? I’ve noticed that despite it being extremely popular on restaurant menus, including ours, Americans rarely cook it at home. There seems to be an intimidation factor, as if cooking duck should only be left to the professionals. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you can cook a chicken breast, you can cook a duck breast. And my Plum Sauce Duck is the perfect recipe to give you the confidence to start enjoying duck on a regular basis. Just 10 minutes prep plus 10 minutes cooking time gives you a perfectly bronzed and lusciously sauced duck breast.

plum sauce duck ingredients

Duck Fat

One of the main differences between duck breasts and chicken breasts is the fat. Specifically, ducks have a layer of fat between the meat and the skin. Scoring the skin allows some of the fat to melt out, leaving you with glorious crispy skin and leaner, but still rich tasting meat. Scoring just means making slashes through the skin and partly through the fat, being careful not to cut through the meat. First trim any excess fat:

scoring plum sauce duck

You will have a cross hatch pattern when you’re done. This not only helps to crisp up the skin, but it also makes for a nice presentation.

Plum Sauce (and marinade!)

Even though it’s poultry, duck meat tastes closer to red meat. It stands up beautifully to this sauce, which does double duty as a marinade. The sweet-tart flavor of plum wine is the perfect foil to the meaty richness. Plum wine is a Japanese liquor made from ume plums. (You can read more about this prized fruit here) I add hoisin sauce for complexity and body, and a little soy sauce for depth.

marinade plum sauce duck

chill plum sauce duck

Duck meat is dense and sturdy enough that a 24 hour marinade is ideal for maximum flavor. But if you didn’t start the day before, plan on at least 4 hours. I love an overnight marinade though because it gets most of your prep done ahead of time. Once I’m ready to cook, I drain off the marinade and start heating it while I cook the duck.

pan plum sauce duck

flip plum suace duck

reduce plum sauce wine

blend plum sauce duck

Now that the breasts are cooked, and the sauce is velvety smooth, it’s time to dig in to this Plum Sauce Duck.  I like to drizzle a little of the plum sauce on top, and serve with extra on the side for those that like things extra saucy.

Plum Sauce Duck is amazing served with:

However you enjoy it, I hope this recipe shows you how easy it is to make duck at home just like the pros! Try it and tell me what  you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and tagging us in your beautiful duck pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

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plum sauce duck recipe card

Plum Sauce Duck

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • 4 duck breasts (approximately 2 pounds)
  • 2 umeboshi plums


  • 1 cup Plum wine
  • 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar


Marinate the duck:

  1. Trim the duck of any excess fat. 
  2. Score the duck by gently cutting on the diagonal through the skin and partially through the fat in even ¼ inch strokes (do not cut into the meat itself.) 
  3. Turn the duck 45 degrees and score again, so that you have a diamond or cross hatch pattern.
  4. Combine the plum wine, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
  5. Pour the sauce over the duck. Submerge the duck making sure that the breasts are well coated.
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.

Cook the Duck:

  1. Heat a large 12″ pan over medium heat for several minutes. Dry the duck on a paper towel and lay it skin side down and cook for 3 minutes. 
  2. Flip the duck and cook the other side for another 3 minutes. 
  3. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat to medium low, and cook for 2 minutes.  
  4. Take the pan off of the heat and let the duck sit, with the lid still covering it, while you make the sauce.

For the Sauce:

  1. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes until it is thickened and reduced (you should have about 3/4 cup of sauce).
  2. Add the umeboshi plums and carefully blend with an immersion blender. (You can also do this in a standard blender with the pour center removed. Cover the opening with a kitchen towel and carefully blend on low.)
  3. Add the butter and swirl it around to melt it. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl. 

Slice and Serve:

  1. Cut the duck on an angle into thick ½ inch slices.
  2. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with the sauce on the side.


*The recipe as written will yield medium well duck. If you prefer your duck less cooked, do not let it rest in the pan while you complete the sauce. Take the duck out of the pan after resting it in the pan for several minutes, and let it sit on the cutting board instead while you finish the sauce.

*Pro Tip- When blending the sauce in the pan, you can keep a damp kitchen towel draped over the blending stick and pan to catch any splashes of sauce that spray out. 

Keywords: umeboshi plum, duck, hoisin

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