Chaozhou Braised Duck

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6–8

    with 3–4 Other Dishes

Appears in

Classic Food of China

By Yan-Kit So

Published 1992

  • About

One of the most famous dishes of the Chaozhou cuisine is a goose braised in a herb sauce. Since the geese in Chaozhou are much more like Western ducks than geese in size and texture, Chaozhou natives who live abroad use ducks instead to make the dish, and they find the result more than satisfactory.

Our Chaozhou neighbours in Hong Kong Mrs Ng and her aunt, once showed me how they made this duck. Thank you, Mrs Ng.

Ingredients

  • 1 cleaned duck, about 2.3 kilos (5 lb), and its giblets
  • salt
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fine sea salt mixed with 5 ml (1 tsp) five-spice powder
  • 85 g (3 oz) galangal, skin scraped and cut into thin slices
  • 10 cm (4 in) piece weighing about 55 g (2 oz) Chinese brown sugar, chopped into bits
  • 105 ml (7 tbsp) mushroom soy sauce
  • 30–45 ml (2–3 tbsp) sesame oil

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 10 ml (2 tbsp) puréed garlic
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) Chinese rice vinegar

Method

  1. Remove and discard oil sacs near the tail of the duck. Clean the cavity well and pat dry. For cleansing the gizzard, heart and livers, rub over with salt, rinse thoroughly then pat dry.
  2. Rub the skin and the cavity evenly with the sea salt and five-spice powder mixture. Put into the cavity half of the galangal slices. Leave to stand for about 1 hour.
  3. Heat a wok over a moderate heat until hot. Add the sugar, let it melt gradually. When it bubbles all over, add the soy sauce and stir to mix, lowering the heat so that the sauce becomes aromatic rather than burned. Add the remaining galangal slices and about 175 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) water, stir to incorporate and gradually bring to a simmer.
  4. Put in the duck, breast side up, and, if necessary, add sufficient water so as to half submerge the duck. Adjust to a moderate heat and gradually bring to the boil, spooning the sauce all over the duck to give the skin an even colour. Add 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the sesame oil to enhance the flavour.
  5. Put on the lid, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid, check how much liquid has evaporated, add 50–100 ml (2–4 fl oz/¼–½ cup) water as replenishment, turn the duck, either breast side down or on the side, and simmer again, covered, for another 15 minutes. Repeat this process 3–4 more times, giving a total cooking time of 1¼–1½ hours to the duck. Add the gizzard and heart half-way through the cooking but the livers during the last 15 minutes so that the latter will be tender but not hard. To test, pierce the thighs with a chopstick or fork; if it goes in easily with no pink juices oozing out, the duck is cooked.
  6. Remove the duck with the giblet pieces from the wok and let cool. Brush all over with the remaining sesame oil to heighten the aroma.
  7. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan. If too thin, it should be reduced to about 250–300 ml (8–10 fl oz/1–1¼ cups).
  8. Carve the duck. Using a pair of scissors, cut out the 2 breasts, then debone with a knife. Slice the meat at an angle into thin and large slivers. Chop the rest of the duck through the skin and bones into rectangular pieces about 2.5 × 4 cm (1 × 1½ in). Arrange them on an oval serving dish in the shape of a duck, placing the boneless breast pieces on top. Slice the gizzard into thin pieces and put also on to the serving dish. The carving can be done in advance and the dish kept in a cool place but not refrigerated.
  9. Prepare the sauces. When about ready to serve, reheat the cooking sauce. Pour some of it over the duck and some into small saucers for individual dipping at the table.

    Divide the puréed garlic into 2 saucers or small bowls. Add half the rice vinegar to each and stir to mix. This dipping sauce is meant to offset the grease of the duck, thereby aiding digestion.