Duck ash with quince, saffron and noodles

Duck ash with quince, saffron and noodles

Ash-e ordak

Mark Roper

To be honest, we didn’t see a huge number of duck dishes on our travels around Iran, although it is often served as a fancy fesenjun, in a rich and tangy pomegranate–walnut sauce. But duck meat does have a wonderfully rich flavour, and I think it’s the perfect candidate for a thick, hearty ash, full of noodles, white beans and chunks of golden quince.


Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 duck legs, boned, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2 cm cubes
150g dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 long strips orange peel, all pith removed
8 sprigs thyme
1.5-2 litres good-quality chicken stock
2 quinces, washed and dried
1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced
60g vermicelli noodles
sea salt
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons finely shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons Saffron liquid


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently until soft and translucent. Stir in the spices and fry for another couple of minutes.
  2. Add the duck to the pan and cook over a highish heat for a minute until coloured, stirring to coat with the spice mixture. Add the beans to the pan with the orange peel and thyme. Pour in the stock and saffron liquid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, skimming away any impurities that rise to the surface
  3. Meanwhile, core and peel the quinces. Cut into small chunks, putting them into acidulated water to prevent discoloration as you go.
  4. Add the quince to the soup and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quince and duck are tender. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in the diced tomato. Add the noodles and cook for 4–5 minutes. Remove the orange peel. Season the soup to taste with salt and stir in the lemon juice, then sprinkle on the parsley and serve straight away.
Middle Eastern
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