Réunion is an island on the East coast of Africa, a bit farther away than Madagascar. It is an overseas department of France, so technically a part of France, the EU and the Eurozone. There are two volcanoes and three calderas. The world records for rain in 1 day (over 73 inches or almost 2 m!), and every period from 3 days to 15 days have been recorded on Réunion. The people and culture are quite multiethnic, mixing Europeans, Africans, Indians and Chinese.
Cari (curry) is a typical Réunionnais dish, flavoured with cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and thyme. It is often served with rougail, a fiery chutney-like condiment, and various greens as a side dish. The French cuisine is present in such ingredients as potatoes and artichokes. Both cheese and wine are produced on Réunion, as well. Rice and beans are very popular and lentils are eaten too. Jackfruit and mango are enjoyed both green in savoury dishes and ripe as a sweet fruit. Vanilla is also used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
I’m quite fond of the mock duck I’ve bought in blue jars in Chinatown even when I still lived in Finland. And what would be a better use for it than a sauce with clementines and plenty of vanilla. It was quite nice, not spectacular but also not weird in any way. I imagine I might serve it again for some guests when I wanted to serve something quite unusual (yet tame). I used vanilla powder (which I have a big stash of) instead of vanilla beans. The cute little fruit in the photo are mini mandarins, delicious and also make for great props.
Le canard au tangor et à la vanille
1.1 lbs/500 g (or two jars) mock duck, or e.g. chicken-style tofu
1 clementine, quartered
juice of 2 clementines
2 vanilla beans, split lengthways
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
oil for frying
Fry the onion in oil until soft but not yet changed color. Add one vanilla bean and the clementine pieces. Simmer for two minutes. Add the tomatoes. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices.
Add the clementine juice, the remaining vanilla bean and 1 dl/0.4 cups water. Simmer for two minutes. If you’re using canned mock duck, squeeze as much liquid out of it as possible so that it will absorb as much flavour as possible. Add the “duck” into the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Serve hot with a green salad. Serves four.