duck breast nigiri sushi

Duck breast sushi_Nobu 01

Having bought the duck breast and kept in the freezer for some time, I finally decided to make it last night. Duck breast seems to be challenging to prepare, I heard that it takes longer to cook then other meat so I always felt restrained to try cooking it myself. I love duck almost in all forms but I have always enjoyed it in the restaurant. Nevertheless, every thing has its first time. I have searched online and found an excellent post on ‘how to pan roast a duck breast from Cookthink. Meanwhile, just like Marisa’s post in Slashfood, I did not need to put the duck breast into the oven but still could get the inside rosé.

I was very indecisive last night, actuall I have shortlisted to two recipes to try out one of them: 

However, I was distracted when I saw my friend from San Franciso writing in Facebook telling what she had eaten the night before and seared duck breast sushi was one of them. I immediately thought what a good idea, perhaps I can try to make this. I searched and found this duck sushi recipe from Nobu’s cookbook. I got all excited by this and immediately started cracking on it. I had dinner at NOBU Hong Kong recently with my best friend and we both enjoyed it the food, ambiance and service there a lot, that’s why I did not have any hesitation with their recipe. 


Inspired by Nobu’s recipe from Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook

Makes about 12 pieces


  • 1 duck breast, skin trimmed if necessary
  • Chinese 5 spices
  • Japanese 7 spices
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp grated daikon
  • 1 tbsp red chili paste (I used the Korean ones)
  • wasabi paste 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped (choose the young and thin ones) 
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp umeboshi plum paste
  • 2 tbsp  clear honey
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • zest of 1 lime (for garnish)
  • 1.5 cup Japanese short grain rice
  • 2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar



  1. Prepare in advance the lime zest, grated ginger, chopped coriander, umeboshi paste in small plates and set aside.
  2. Mix well the honey and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. (The sauce is thick enough and I did not make by reduction as indicated in the original recipe.)
  3. Peel a daikon of about 10cm long. Grate and squeeze out the juice. Add 1 tsp of red chili paste, mix well and set aside. This is known as Momijio Oroshi.
  4. Prepare vinegared sushi rice by cooking the Japanese rice as usual in rice cooker. When the rice is done, drizzle some rice vinegar to the rice and mix well. Open the lid to cool down the rice gradually.
  5. While the rice is cooking, prepare the pan roast duck breast. Cut the skin of the duck breast in a crosshatch pattern, cutting about halfway through the fat. Season both sides by dusting with Japanese 7 spice powder, Chinese 5 spice powder and salt and pepper.
  6. Sauté the duck breast in a pan at medium-low heat with skin side down. Cook slowly to render some of the fat to achieve a nice golden color. Turn and cook the other side. You will need to cook about 6 minutes for each side to get rosée inside. Remove the duck breast from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes before cutting. The rendered duck fat can be reserved for other use such as frying vegetables, etc.
  7. Slice thinly the duck breast and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  8. Make 12 pieces of sushi rice. Dash a little wasabi and umeboshi paste onto the middle of the sliced duck breast. and top with a little grated ginger, Momiji Oroshi and finely chopped coriander stems.
  9. Finally drizzle some honey soy sauce on the sushi and sprinkle some lime zest on the plate as garnish.
  10. Serve  immediately.


Duck breast sushi 02

How did  I like this? Ooooh, what can I say? I am a big fan of Japanese food and the first piece of this contemporary sushi gave me an Hmmmmmm and extraordinary palate sensation because it contains a bit of everything

  • succulent from the duck breast
  • sourness from the umeboshi and vinegared sushi rice;
  • different kinds of spiciness from the daikon chili paste (Momijio Oroshi), seasonings from the 7 and 5 spices, ginger and wasabi; 
  • sweetness from the honey soy and
  • also there was actually a hint of bitterness from the daikon.

and this is the characteristics of Nobu dishes, NOBU is very good in mix and match of all kinds of flavors (despite the fact that I did not follow his recipe fully, it’s still very good in my opinion, will definitely make again soon. It was not easy last night to prepare and take pictures at the same time and restraining myself from eating them immediately. Next time I hope to be able to sit back and enjoy the sushi even more (without the need of taking pictures).

I could taste all of them clearly without getting mixed up. It may sound a little unbelievable of how can all these different flavorings be put together but the only way to answer your question is to try and explore this yourself. And and and don’t forget to have a sake or glass of wine to go with this, can’t be missed!!!


  • Since this is a cooked sushi and all the seasonings are already added to the sushi, it’s not necessary to dip in any wasabi soy sauce.
  • You can serve this cold or you can also warm in the microwave at low heat for 10 seconds without overcooking the duck breast.


Want more? Here is a sneak peek of what we had in NOBU Hong Kong:

seared kanpachi sashimi salad with yuzu dressing


Toro Tartare with Caviar and a plum


31 thoughts on “duck breast nigiri sushi

  1. A fantastic post! I can’t sleep and after reading your post, I hope I can dream of your duck sushi! Thank you janet!

  2. What a tasty duck dish!! I so love duck especially wild duck!! OOO,…I so want to make this!!

    Yum Yum Yum! We can buy 5 spice here in our Asian supermarket but I haven’t seen Japanese 7 spice yet. Maybe, I will make it myself! I have found recipes.

    Wow!! wonderful & elegant bites! MMMMMM,…Janet!
    .-= Sophie´s last blog ..Sophie’s festive speculaas =-.

  3. You can skip the 7 spices and just use 5 spices, it should be enough 🙂 I would love to try wild duck!!! You can make 7 spices yourself, wow.

  4. I love duck too, it´s one of my favourite meats! As I´m not keen on seafood or fish, I haven´t tried sushi but this sounds like my kind of sushi!!!

  5. Very nicely done! I love duck and I love sushi… should try to make this sometime.

    This sushi reminds me of the seared wagyu sushi we had at Sakae Sushi in Burlingame, CA. Out of this world!
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Honey-Glazed Yams =-.

  6. I just got some smoked duck at a little farm just across the border from Basel in France. How do you think it would work for duck sushi? Wondering if I might tone down the spices…thoughts? I have been making duck since living here in a more traditional method – this looks like such a great alternative – thx! Great to find your website.
    .-= Rylla´s last blog ..Getting close to your food… =-.

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