Ying's ideas of easy Chinese home-cooking

Winter Meal – Shredded Duck Meat Salad, with Radish and Duck Soup, Steamed Rice

手撕鴨、蘿蔔鴨湯、鴨油飯

A lot of people are reluctant to cook duck, for it seems to be a fatty and chewy meat. But I quite like its stronger gamey flavour. Besides, though duck has thicker fat under the skin since they stay in water most of time, the majority of the fat comes from the thick skin, so just remove as much as you want before cooking. Duck meat is a healthy choice of meat for it offers more protein than chicken per 100g, and contains Vitamin B and selenium.

In most western cuisines even in some Chinese cuisines, duck is usually roasted or pan-fried, sometimes deboned. In this recipe, I would use duck with bones to make a simple winter meal – a flavourful salad, soup and steamed rice. Duck will be cooked in soup, deboned, then meat hand-torn. Some soup will be used to make steamed rice.

Chinese white radish/daikon is particularly sweet and juicy in winter, and it’s perfect partner of fatty meat. In traditional Cantonese food theory, duck meat and white radish are both ‘cold’ food. For balancing, I would add plenty of ginger and dry jujube dates, which are considered ‘warm’ food. Well, though being a modern Cantonese, I believe in food and health theory or suggestion that had been practiced for centuries from my ancestors.

This meal doesn’t require complicated cooking methods. What you need is time. This is not what I would prepare in a busy working day dinner. But in a dark and cold winter weekend afternoon, nothing better than the aroma of soup simmering in pot and a hearty meal.

For more of my duck meat recipes, read Early Autumn seasonal food – How to cook braised duck and taro, Preserved Soy Duck

For more recipes using the cooking method of hand-tearing, read Hand-torn Chicken in Onion Dressing, Chicken and Cucumber Salad in Sesame Dressing

Ingredients –

  • Duck, half, with bones, about 1kg, 2-3 serving
  • Chinese radish/daikon, 1 in medium size, about 750g
  • Big dry jujube dates, 4
  • Ginger, sliced, 50g
  • Leek, half stalk

Ingredients (dressing) –

  • Garlic, 2 cloves, peeled
  • Red Thai chili, 1
  • Light soy sauce, 4tbsp
  • Sugar, half tsp

Cooking tips –

When using fat meat in making Chinese soup, there are three methods to prevent it too greasy.

  1. Remove the fatty part as much as you want. Usually the bottom part near the tail and thigh would be quite fatty, remove the fat and thick skin with a kitchen scissor;
  2. Blanch the meat. Boiling water can bring up fat, blood or dirt from the bones and the meat;
  3. Cook with vegetables. Vegetables can absorb some fat. Carrots, radish, and dry leafy vegetables are most commonly seen soup ingredients.

Make sure duck meat is cooled to room temperature before deboning and hand-tearing. Also, for steaming rice, there has to be water or liquid in room temperature, otherwise the rice won’t be cooked nicely.

How to do –

  1. Duck washed, head and tail removed, also remove the fat and thick skin near the tail and thigh. Halve or keep it as a whole if the duck isn’t too big. I usually keep the neck but without skin, and foot when making soup, but wouldn’t eat them; Bring a big pot of water to boil, put in the duck, lid on and bring to boil again, then cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the pot and wash off the brownish pits;

2. Soup pot washed, put in the duck, ginger and dry dates, add about 1300ml water, lid on, bring to boil in high heat then simmer for half an hour in medium-low heat;

3. Radish peeled and cut into big chunks; After half an hour simmering, add the radish in the soup, also bring to boil then simmer for half an hour;

4. Then the soup is done and duck is cooked to tender. Duck cooled to room temperature; season the soup with a nip of salt. Cantonese don’t like soup too salty, what we like is the combination of the true flavour of different natural ingredients;

5. I use some scoops of the beautiful clear soup to make steamed rice. Make sure the soup is cooled to room temperature otherwise the rice won’t be cooked thoroughly. Never use hot water or hot soup in making steamed rice. Believe me, the rice would be so tasty. If you had Hainanese Chicken Rice before, this is the duck version;

6. Now let’s prepare the duck salad. Leek thinly sliced. If you don’t like it spicy, soak the sliced leek in cold water for 10 minutes then drained. I wouldn’t care; When duck meat cooled to room temperature, it would become firmer. Since it has been poached in soup for one hour it should be tender enough to be boned and be torn apart, use a kitchen scissor to help. You could trash the bone but for me, there are still nutrition and flavour in the bones, so I would keep them in freezer, and make duck broth, just like chicken broth;

7. A simple dressing for the salad would be just nice. 2 cloves of garlic mince, 1 finely chopped red chili, 4tbsp of light soy sauce, and half tsp of sugar, mix well. A pinch of sesame or sesame oil would be even better. Pour on top of the duck and mix well before serving;

8. Reheat the soup before serving. Then you would have a simple and happy meal with a flavourful hand-torn duck salad, radish and duck soup, and steamed rice with duck soup. One more or two side dishes would be even nicer.

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