Duck and Kiam Chye Soup

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

Savoury, sour and soulful, this soup features in the food repertoire of more than one dialect group—the Teochews and Hokkiens both have their own versions, as do the Peranakan Chinese. It is a typical southern Chinese strategy to use pickled or preserved vegetables as a foil for rich meats. Here, the slow simmering mellows the robust tang of the salted vegetable (kiam chye) and the gamy duck, each flavour taming the other to achieve a deep and soothing result.


  • Duck 1, about 1.75–2 kg (3 lb 14 oz–4 lb 6 oz), cleaned
  • Salt 1 Tbsp
  • Meaty pork ribs 250 g (9 oz)
  • Ginger 3 thick slices, bruised
  • Water 3 litres (96 fl oz / 12 cups)
  • Salted vegetable (kiam chye) 500 g (1 lb oz), washed well, drained and soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Wet salted plums (sng boey) 3
  • Dried sour fruit (asam gelugor) 3 slices
  • Firm-ripe tomatoes 5, cut into quarters
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste


  1. With a small, sharp knife, remove tail, skin and as much fat as possible from duck. Cut duck into large serving pieces. Rub duck pieces all over with salt, then rinse very well. Trim off and discard any large fat nuggets from pork ribs.
  2. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Blanch pork and duck pieces for 2 minutes, then drain well.
  3. Combine duck, pork ribs, ginger and 3 litres (96 fl oz / 12 cups) fresh water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat, half-cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.
  4. Drain soaked salted vegetable well, squeezing it gently dry. Slice into thick strips and add to pot with salted plums and dried sour fruit. Simmer for another 45 minutes or until meats are very tender.
  5. Add tomatoes to pot and cook for another 15 minutes, until tomatoes are just soft. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and sugar. Serve hot.