Tuesday, 19 February 2013
What's Up Duck? - Teochew Braised Duck / Lor Ark 潮州滷鴨
There is something strangely comforting about Teochew braised duck. Nothing soothes a weary soul like taking a whiff of this as you lift up the lid of an on going simmering duck, slow braised in earthy aromatic spices which just exude a gratifying aroma, like a warm steamy hug. It's the ultimate Singaporean home comfort food.
Duck may not the healthiest poultry of choice due to it's astoundingly high fat content but the slow cooking process actually helps to render out any excess fat. These floating oily layer can then be easily scoop out and discard to reduce the fattiness. The duck also develops rich, robust flavours after hours of submerging in a simmering stock made of soy sauce and spices yielding some warm and buttery soft meat.
It is best to start the prep a day ahead as you will need to thoroughly rubbed the duck with the spices and salt and allow it to have a good chance to permeate the flesh before braising it. Although it might sounds a bit tedious having to plan this a day in advance but don't be tempted to skip this step as it really does make a huge difference.
Do not discard the leftover braising liquid. I always keep a batch frozen in my freezer to be added to any future braising duck, chicken, pork etc. This will intensified with each cooking sessions and what you are left with is a more complex and rich stock, resulting in even more flavoursome braised meat. This master stock, as it is commonly known, is the true secret behind all the good Chinese restaurant, where some master stock are passed down through generations and can be hundred of years old!
On the day that I cooked this, I foolishly forgotten to cook the rice. So out of sheer desperation, I nipped down to my local Chinese supermarket, which thankfully is only a stone throw away, bought a packet of flat wanton noodles and some chinese greens, choy sum. I quickly blanched the vegetables and noodles for 30 seconds in boiling water. Drain and plated onto a serving dish. Topped with the carved duck and some of the delicious thick braising liquid. Scattered on some fried shallots and chopped coriander for garnish. Lastly, a dollop of chilli sauce and a few drops of sesame oil and voila! Teochew braised duck noodles.
Note to self: Next time, remember to cook the bloody rice.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
1 whole duck, cleaned and wipe dry
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp five-spice powder
3 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
8 garlic cloves
1 stick cinnamon
5 cm piece of fresh ginger, bruised
5 cm piece of fresh galangal, bruised
For the seasoning:
5 tbsp sugar
250 ml light soy sauce
125 ml dark soy sauce
2 bay leaves
3 pieces dried tangerine peel
For the Teochew chilli dipping sauce:
2 fresh red chillies
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp white vinegar
Prep the duck a day before cooking. Rub the duck well with the dark soy sauce, sea salt and five-spice powder until it is well coated. Cover and set aside to marinade in a fridge overnight. Remove the duck from the fridge an hour before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature.
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a wok or pan large enough to accommodate the duck. Stir fry the shallots and garlic for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the cinnamon, ginger and galangal and continue to fry for another minute before adding the seasoning ingredients.
Place the duck in the wok/pan, breast side up. The duck should be fully submerged in the liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the duck is thoroughly cooked and tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the chilli dipping sauce. Finely chopped the chillies and garlic in a food processor. In a bowl, mix the sugar with the vinegar until dissolved. Add the chopped chilies and garlic and mix well. Set aside.
Remove the duck and turn up the heat to reduce the braising liquid slightly while you chopped up the duck into serving pieces. Transfer onto a serving dish, ladles over some of the reduced liquid and serve hot with some steamed rice and Teochew chilli dipping sauce.