Teochew Braised Duck Recipe


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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

Disclosure: Some links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, a small commission is earned if you click through and make a purchase.

Places to eat Braised Duck:
Chuan Kee Braised Duck
Wei Ji Braised Duck
Liang Zhao Ji Braised Duck
Jin Ji Braised Duck: Next Gen Braised Bento
Sean Kee Braised Duck

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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!

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!

sure…disclaimer….this is not THE definitive guide… am just lazy and and this suits my own waterbath lah… 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! : )

Do u know how to cook the herb soup eat tgt with duck rice

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

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!

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!

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

Do let us know!

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

With pork belly, I would omit the blue ginger. I do have another recipe for tau you bak which you might want to checkout

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

Yes, approximately.

Oh, I love this very dish much. I feel in love with this dish for the first time when my father made this dish for me.

Wow, if my daughter ever said that to me, it would really make my day!

I tried this yesterday, thought it was OK, aromatic no doubt. But my duck was inky black in sauce, doesn’t look like your duck pic at all. ??

You need to reduce your dark soy sauce. Different brands have different colour.

May I know the soy sauce is sweet or salty type?

The brand is reflected in the blog post. It is not too salty and slightly sweet.

I must profess that I am a neophyte in cooking this delicious braised duck. It really perplexes me that I have to buy a strong and tough duck to endure 15 hrs of simmering with about 45 times of turning it. What is the difference between a duck suitable for braising and one for other forms of cooking? Does the weight, shape or size of the duck affect the duration and types of cooking method?
Can I simmer Mr duck for 45 min to an hour and let it sleep undisturbed in its hot bathtub for 6 hours till it cools off? Of course, the lid must be covered to reduce heat loss by convection and the pot to remain on the stove for air is a poor conductor of heat. I have tried it with a big fat chicken that took 7 hours to cool completely.

U might want to re-read the whole post again. It say 1.5hrs, not 15hrs

It is better to use a high pot so that the duck can be seen bobbling up and down when it is cooked. When uncooked it sinks somewhat.
Use a chicken hook to hook the duck.

Boil the duck at 100C there about for about 1 hour.
Press the duck down and check to see it bobs up and down like a cork.
continue for another 10 mins and recheck.
Once it bobbing up and down. Shut down all flame and leave the duck
to STEEP in the sauce for 2 hours.

The 2 hours steeping , will ensure all deep internal sinews are soften and as the heat dies down the flavor from the broth will infuse into the duck meat.

For those that do not eat rice /porridge with the duck, a less salty soy sauce could be used as the steeping will also make the duck more salty.

For a boost in flavor use blended soya bean paste and add some into the broth. This will introduce a sharp flavourful aroma to the broth.

Reduce to 1 hour steeping if your pot has very good heat retention.
you can try 1 hour first and look at the duck, if it is still firm you can try 2 hours.

I have 2 pots one can do 1 hour the other 2 hours without duck breaking up

How do you flip the duck without tearing the skin.? I find that a challenge!

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