Sunday 18 August 2013

Itek Sio - Nyonya Braised Duck With Tamarind And Coriander

It has been a while since I last posted any recipes. For those who follow me on Instagram or Twitter would know, admist all my many restaurant dining, I have also been posting pictures of numerous BBQ endeavour such as this whole sambal belacan-rubbed chicken or grilled turbot with a sweet and spicy Sambal kecap. But with 2 week of nightshifts just gone and the sudden additional responsibilities in work due to my career development, things has just been a bit crazy of late to actually sit down and write out any recipes. Now that's all done and dusted and having just received the good news of a promotion. I can now finally get my blogging life back on track. So expect load of more recipes to come thanks to the added extra pennies in the pocket *wink* and more dining experiences to share too.

Just to get me back into the swing of things, I thought this Nyonya classic will be a great one to start off with. Duck is revered in Peranakan cuisine as much as any other other Asian culture and this traditional dish frequently make appearances in many Nyonya household during Chinese New Year celebration.

Deceptively simple and on the face of it, does not contain many exotic ingredients. But do not let that lull you into thinking this is a just another bland, insipid braised duck concoction. It is any but that. The unusual copious amount of ground coriander used here is what give this delicious dish its signature aroma and the tamarind and asam gelugor (sour fruit slices - see picture below) added a tangy sourness that cut through the richness. The trick here is to make sure you take your time to cook the duck slowly so that it is melting tender and thoroughly coated with these thick and glossy, tangy sauce.

My nan would often make this days in advance and allowed the dish to sit quietly in the fridge to mature and develop even richer flavours. She would of course use a whole duck and make a big batch of these which otherwise, would seriously struggle to even make it to the dining table days later. There's nothing better than to sneak a bite at some of these additive duck pieces, all dredged in their tangy aromatic sauce every now and then.

Try this with chicken for a great alternative if you are not that keen on duck.

Ingredients (Serve 2 )

2 duck legs 
vegetable or sunflower oil  

For the marinade: 
300g shallots, peeled and finely chopped (or alternatively use 3 medium onion)
3 tbsp ground coriander 
50g gula Melaka, finely chopped (or alternatively use 3 tbsp soft brown sugar) 
1 tbsp dark soy sauce 
30g tamarind pulp soaked in 400ml water or 2tbsp concentrated tamarind mixed with 400ml water 
1 tbsp white vinegar
3 asam gelugor (dried sour fruit slices)  
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste  


Combine all the ingredients for the marinade i a large bowl and add the duck legs. Rubbed well to cover ad leave to marinade for at least 2-4 hours or preferable overnight  

When ready to cook, put the legs along with the marinade in a saucepan and simmer gently over low heat for 2 hours, or even longer until the duck is tender. Top up with more water if it starts to dry up too quickly.  

Once tender, remove the duck and set aside. Turn up the heat and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Return the duck to the thicken sauce to heat through before serving.


  1. This looks so delicious, yet so simple. I can't wait to give this a go.

  2. Made this tonight. Marinaded the duck for about 8 hours then cooked it for 90 minutes - great flavour but duck legs (from Ginger Pig) still really tough. Think it needs to be left overnight after cooking and reheated to get tender meat.

  3. Thanks for your feedback.

    Yes, I normally encourage longer cooking time as the longer you cook the more tender it gets. About an hour is the minimum time it should be cooked. And keeping it overnight will develop an even richer flavours. Glad you like the flavours.



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