TONY STAPLES: A luxurious meal to help you beat the January blues

Gressingham duck with soy roots and fruits and plum and ginger sauce
Gressingham duck with soy roots and fruits and plum and ginger sauce

Give yourself a plate of luxury to blast away the winter blues says Tony Staples, executive head chef at the Arora hotel in Crawley.

“I put this dish on our menu just after Christmas and it has flown out the kitchen.

Tony Staples

Tony Staples

“The richness of duck meat always works well with fruity flavours and I have borrowed a few Asian-inspired ingredients too.

“The combination will give your taste buds a workout, with pops of sweetness from the grapes and plums, mixed with a fiery hit of ginger.

“There is something luxurious about duck meat that makes any meal feel like a special occasion. Perfect then if you are struggling through these grey January days and need to give yourself a lift. Freeze any leftover plum and ginger sauce and you will have a ready-made dip for spring rolls or wontons in time for Chinese New Year on February 16.”

The Grill in the Arora is Crawley’s only AA-rosette restaurant. To book, phone 01293 530000. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook (Arora Hotel Gatwick Crawley). Share your duck dishes with us on Instagram by tagging @aroragatwick. Visit

Gressingham duck breasts with soy glazed roots and fruits, and plum and ginger sauce

Serves 2

2 large duck breasts with skin on

Salt and pepper

1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced into bite-sized chunk

4 baby beetroots

10 red seedless grapes

120ml soy sauce

120ml water

1 clove

1 star anise

1tsp soy sauce

For the plum and ginger sauce:

250g plums, halved and stoned

1tsp sesame oil

10cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Quarter of a red chilli, finely chopped

1 flat tablespoon of ground five spice

150g dark brown sugar

150ml red wine vinegar


To make the plum and ginger sauce, heat the sesame oil in a saucepan and fry the ginger, garlic and chilli for 30 seconds.

Add the plums and five spice, and cook until the plums start to soften.

Stir in the sugar and red wine vinegar. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid goes sticky. This takes about 10 minutes. Blitz in a blender until smooth.

In a saucepan, stir the 120ml soy sauce with the water, star anise and clove, and add the peeled baby beets.

Simmer for 45 minutes until the beets are cooked.

Remove from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Pour the remaining hot liquid over the kohlrabi. Keep warm.

For the soy grapes, heat the teaspoon of soy sauce in the pan. Toss in the grapes for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan while you cook the duck.

Season the duck breasts and place skin side down in a hot pan. Cook for a few minutes. Turnover and cook for another minute, then place in a preheated oven, 175oC for 5 minutes.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes before carving into thick slices and serving with the soy beets, kohlrabi and grapes, with generous amounts of plum and ginger sauce.

Chef’s tip

The sticky soy grapes are also delicious with roast pork.

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