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Teochew Braised Duck Recipe

Braised-Duck

My friend Allan has made it his mission to track down retired hawkers and learn their tried and tested recipes.  This particular braised duck recipe comes from an old Teochew man, Mr Teo  who used to be the head chef of Hang Kang Teochew restaurant for over 20 years.  He shares his braise duck recipe with us which might come across as amazingly simple.  But according to Mr Teo, this is authentic Teochew style braised duck.  According to him,  there is no need to caramelize the sugar and add a whole lot of other ingredients that most internet recipes have stated.  The most important ingredient is the dark soy sauce and so it is important to buy the very best quality soy sauce. I tried his recipe and it works pretty well to produce a robust, Teochew style braised duck.

Duck

Ingredients

1 Duck
Cinnamon sticks 5
Dried chillies 2
Star anise 5
Blue ginger (galangal) 7 slices
Garlic 7 cloves
Dark Soy Sauce 350ml
2 Tbsp white sugar

NB: Mr Teo recommends Tai Hwa superior dark soy sauce which is commonly found in our supermarkets.  This soy sauce is not very salty and is thick but still runny.  His recipe calls for 3/4 of a standard 700ml bottle. I found this a little strong and have adjusted it to 1/2 bottle.

Procedure at a glance:

1.  Fry all the dry spices till fragrant
2.  Add soy sauce, sugar and 2 bowls of water.
3.  Bring sauce to a boil and add the duck
4.  Add enough water so that 3/4 of the duck is submerged
5.  Slowly braise for 1.5 hrs turning the duck over every 20mins or so.  It is ready once the meat is tender
6.  Leave to cool before chopping

1

Prepare the ingredients.  I like to use “old” garlic which I usually buy from the market.  These are sold with the cloves already separated instead of intact as a bulb and looks a bit more wrinkled.

2

Prepare the duck by making an insertion at the base of the neck so that the braising sauce can circulate.  You may rub salt over the whole duck and marinate it for a few hours before washing away the salt in order to get rid of some of its odour.  Another technique that another braised duck hawker tell me is that they will poach the duck in boiling water for 15 mins before putting it into the braising sauce.  Mr Teo doesn’t believe in doing all that.  His instructions is to wash the duck and put it directly into the braising sauce.

Just a note about ducks.  When you buy it from the market, ask for ducks that are suitable for braising.  You want a duck which is tough so that it can withstand a longer braise.  This will ensure the the flavour of the braising sauce can penetrate into the meat before it begins to fall off the bone.

3

According to Mr Teo, even this step of frying the ingredients first is not required.  But I do it because it really doesn’t take much more effort and I feel it does bring out the aroma of the spices.

4

Add soy sauce, sugar and water and bring to boil.

5

Add duck and sufficient water so that 3/4 of the duck is submerged.

6

Braise for at least 1.5hrs at low heat so that it is just simmering.  The duck is ready when the meat is tender.

  • Adina Haes

    Do you cover the wok while it is braising? Also did you add extra water during the braising process?

    • Yes, I do. I guess I better make it clear in the blog! Thanks for highlighting!

  • Soong Poh Loong

    Nice write up Dr. Tay. Ive tried experimenting with a pseudo sous vide previously and it works like a charm, giving you the added option to have the meat texture the way one prefers 😉

    • Great! Do share!

      • Soong Poh Loong

        sure…disclaimer….this is not THE definitive guide… am just lazy and and this suits my own waterbath lah…..so pardon this “SOP” of mine…..and people please experiment, improve it and share! 🙂

        Basically, all the steps as before (i also fry my spices), then freeze this down. will edit from your basic “protocol”:-

        1. Fry all the dry spices till fragrant
        -> same

        2. Add soy sauce, sugar and 2 bowls of water.
        -> Freeze the marinade. (can be done one day ahead)
        -> clean duck (GET RID OF THOSE PESKY TINY FEATHERS!…i use a straight tooth forcep to pluck them out :p )…can also be done one day ahead and let duck dry out a little in the refrigerator.
        -> place frozen marinade inside cavity of duck.
        -> put “excess” ice (about 2 bowls of water’s worth) around duck
        -> Vacuum seal (mine goes to 1 bar), but if no vacuum sealer, just use displacement from 8L Ziploc (with double seal) bag.
        -> Let thaw overnight

        3. Bring sauce to a boil and add the duck.
        -> Get Sous Vide machine between 62 -83 degrees C. (this is the range that you can experiment with….lower temp…longer time, higher temp… shorter time)… For me, i dont like lor ark to be nuked to death such that the meat is falling off…still like abit of bite…so here’s my little trick……
        -> i get my water bath till 83 degrees.
        -> plunge the duck inside bag for half hour. (check that the skin of the duck tightens up to give that “pimply pores” look 🙂
        -> reset water bath to desired temperature for cooking…i went for 68-70 degrees overnight (about 8 hours….too lazy to do the proper math lah :p)
        *tip, to get water temperature to drop quickly, remove hot water from bath and replace with cold water or ice water until 1 or 2 degrees below desired temp.
        .
        .
        .
        .
        6. Leave to cool before chopping.
        -> Take duck out and check internal temperature with a thermometer probe.
        -> hang it somewhere cool.
        -> reserve the fragrant marinade!!!
        -> skim off oil to a container if it irks u like me (i reserve the flavoured oil for toehr stuff).
        -> boil up the marinade and season the way u like it….saltier/sweeter……more cinnamon, more anise…too thick, add water, not thick enough, add flour/water thickener.
        -> once cooled to handle, chop, cleave or “dissect” if u’ve a scapel the way you want and plate it.
        -> Drizzle the sauce over the duck and garnish with cilantro and cucumber.
        -> dont forget tau kwa and hardboiled eggs and…and…and….
        -> piping hot steamed jasmine rice…

        thats all folks!

        i’m hungry writing this already….

        • Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a lot of work! : )

  • DAVIDPD

    AWESOME! I love duck. I am very happy this wasn’t just hoisin sauce and duck. Thanks!!~

  • Anthea Sherry

    My son is back from Uni for Christmas. Duck is one of his favourire meats, so I tried and tested this recipe yesterday, and it was amazing. Easy to follow recipe and easy to cook. The meat was tender and the flavour just exploded in your mouth. I served it with a delicious red (or purple) cabbage and steamed rice. Thank you for sharing Leslie.

    • Oh, glad your son liked it! Thanks for writing in!

  • Eva Lim

    how about the “sambal” like chili they served with the braised duck? How to make that? I try searching but couldn’t find anything ? Thanks! 🙂

    • Hmm…. that will take a bit of investigating!

      • Eva Lim

        I hope you get curious enough to find out hehe *Prays*

  • Do let us know!

  • Jose

    Dear Leslie, it would be possible to use this recipe with pork belly

  • Jose

    Dear Leslie, 2 bowls of water = 2 cups of water