Getting all my ducks in a row
Western Viti Levu, Fiji
Aug 29, 2015
(Posted from Majuro March 2017)
Waiting in my tiny freezer on my boat are two ducks. Fijian ducks.
“You must go and see my father-in-law,” said Kerry, one of my dearest art students in New Zealand, “He was leader of the opposition in Fiji when the first coup happened.”
In December 2014 we sailed from Wellington to Auckland and duly met Jai Ram Reddy, a lovely 79 year old man, for afternoon tea in his Aukcland suburban home. He furnished us with his family contacts in Fiji along with a very interesting perspective on Fijian politics. Hi view that t3h current Fijian government is effectively a benevolent dictatorship under the thin guise of democracy.
Two months after arriving in Fiji we rounded the western end of Viti Levu, 25 knots of wind in our sails and two metre following swells, and I fired off an email to Jai’s brother Raghu, this pretty much complete stranger. It bounced. So I called. I hate calling complete strangers. Especially in another country. A well-spoken Indian man replied, and almost immediately asked if we were free on Sunday and told us he and his wife would show us around the western end of Viti Levu. I think they were expecting us.
What transpired was a fabulous day out, and an introduction to Fiji from an Indian perspective. Including a visit to the family’s duck farm.
The farm, set on a hill, contained multiple large enclosures filled with hundreds of ducks spread out over the property. Most of them Peking ducks, and some Muscovy. Now I’d always thought Peking duck was a Chinese style of cooking. But no, its a breed. I learnt that the Muscovy is a tougher bird (and possibly more flavoursome) more suited to longer slower cooking and Indians prefer it for their curries.
“Can we come and go sailing and have cocktails on your boat?” asked Tiane, Tongan/Fijian/Indian co-owner of le canards.
“But of course,” we cried. We love taking people out.
Now in my very limited understanding everyone curries their ducks in Fiji, so I immediately started thinking about how I could serve different duck, duck as cocktail food.
I hadn’t really cooked duck since my cooking school days in the 70’s. Nouvelle cuisine days, when duck A L’Orange was de rigueur.
For all I knew these guys could be duck connoisseurs.
Duck three ways. Drinks food.
I wanted to use different ethnicities but try and retain the ducky flavour.
- Duck sushi. I hadn’t seen sushi in Fiji at all. Not even in Suva so I’m guessed this would be unusual. I experimented with a wasabi lime gel.
- Duck rice paper rolls. With basil and pawpaw, both grown locally. Accompanied by a light Asian dipping sauce using the crisp hot sweet local red chilies.
- Duck in miti sauce. This is a local i-Tauke (indigenous Fijian) sauce made with freshly grated and squeezed coconut cream, tomato, chili, onion salt, lime, served in a Chinese spoon.
The cocktail session with the duck owners never transpired, things don’t always go as planned at sea. But I did try out the appetisers on some unsuspecting fellow cruisers. The sushi didn’t taste ducky, but the novelty value of the seaweed wrapped morsels was enough. Same with the rice paper rolls. However the duck miti was a hit. The second time I served it that was. The first day it was okay but 24 hours in the coconut cream and the flavours blossomed. I think I need to do more work on duck.