Joshua Hoyt’s Duck with Strawberry Coulis and Pinole Gravy: Food as Medicine

ON THE MENU: Duck with Strawberry Coulis and Pinole Gravy

For the third Native American Health Center (NAHC) – Youth Services cooking class this summer, our theme is “Food as Medicine.” In this week’s class, Joshua Hoyt taught students about the medicinal properties of various Native Californian ingredients.

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About Joshua

Joshua Hoyt has worked in many parts of the food system: first fishing for salmon, then as a professional cook for 4 years, and now as a researcher and educator. He is Metis from the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa and Yankton Sioux tribes. He is the PONY (Preparing Oakland Native Youth) program coordinator for the American Indian Child Resource Center (AICRC) in Oakland where he manages the Feast of Nations program..


Food as Medicine: Native California Ingredients


California Bay Laurel is a relative of Mediterranean bay leaves. The leaves were used for many purposes by California tribes, including to treat headaches, wounds, and sore throats. It was used to flavor meat and stock, and also used to keep pests away from dwellings and food stores.

The Monarda plant is also called bee balm. There are many types found all over North America. The leaves of the plant are used as antiseptics for wounds, to treat mouth and throat complaints, and as a stimulant. Monarda leaves contain thymol, the same chemical that contributes the flavor to thyme. Monarda is used in cooking meat, especially birds and as a tea called Oswego tea.


Strawberries are sacred and medicinal for many tribes, from the Haudenosaunee on the East Coast, to many California tribes on the West Coast. Their resemblance to a heart has given them a special significance in the stories and medicines of many tribes.


Pinole is a Spanish word borrowed from an Aztec word. It is used for the seed mixture that was a staple food of many Native Californian peoples. Seeds were not just a medicine, but also something like a supplement. They were carried by warriors, hunters, and eaten by anybody wanting to improve their athletic performance.


Check out Joshua’s recipe below for cooking duck using native herbs, strawberries, and pinole (seed mixture)!


Recipe: Duck with Strawberry Coulis and Pinole Gravy

Yields about 6 servings

60-80 minutes prep and cook time



  • 1 Duck (can be bought whole at Asian grocery stores)
  • 8 ounces of strawberries
  • 4 ounces sunflower seeds
  • Small handful of toasted Chia seeds or amaranth
  • 3 Tb flour
  • 2 Tb oil, preferably duck or sunflower
  • 3 cups stock, preferably duck or chicken
  • 5 Monarda leaves
  • Two Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 2 Tb vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt


  • Blender or food processor
  • Knife
  • Cast iron pan
  • 2 Saucepans
  • Cutting board
  • Meat thermometer


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add ¼ cup water, Strawberries, sugar, and vinegar to a saucepan. Let simmer until it becomes a thick sauce. Blend until smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Blend sunflower seeds in blender or food processor until you have a thick paste. Heat vegetable oil or duck fat and add in flour. Cook until it just starts to turn brown. Add sunflower paste. Cook until fragrant. Add stock. Bring to a simmer. Add chopped Monarda leaves and 1 whole bay leaf. Cook until it is the consistency of gravy.
  4. Get cast iron pan hot. Pat duck skin dry. When pan gives off smoke, put duck in skin side down. Cook until crisp and brown. Turn duck over and put in the oven. When internal temperature reaches 135 for medium rare or 170 to cook through, pull duck out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread strawberry sauce on the bottom of the plate, put duck on top, and dress with gravy.

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