The braising sauce used for this duck recipe is similar to the one used for Soy Sauce Chicken (on page 147 of Ken Hom's Complete Chinese Cookbook). The sauce can be frozen and re-used. Unlike chicken, duck needs long braising to cook it thoroughly and render out the fat in the skin. You can see this braised duck in food shops in China, south-east Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and in Chinatowns in the USA and the UK, hanging picturesquely from hooks. It is easy to make at home and reheats well, although I think it is best served at room temperature.
|1 x 1.6-1.75kg (3½-4lb)||duck, fresh or frozen and thawed (I use Cherry Valley)|
|1.2l (2 pints)||groundnut or vegetable oil|
|For the braising sauce:|
|1.2 l (2 pints)||chicken stock or water|
|1.2 l (2 pints)||dark soy sauce|
|300ml (10fl oz)||light soy sauce|
|450ml (15fl oz)||Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, or 225ml (7½ fl oz) dry sherry mixed with 225ml (7½ fl oz) chicken stock|
|100g (4oz)||Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar|
|5||whole star anise|
|3||pieces of Chinese cinnamon bark or cinnamon sticks|
|2 tbsp||fennel seeds|
|1 tbsp||cumin seeds|
|For the garnish:|
|Fresh coriander sprigs|
|For the garlic and vinegar dipping sauce:|
|1 tbsp||finely chopped garlic|
|3 tbsp||Chinese white rice vinegar|
Cut the duck in half, lengthways. Dry the halves thoroughly with kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan until it is almost smoking, and deep-fry the two halves of the duck, skin side down. Turn the heat to medium and continue to fry slowly until the skin is browned. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Do not turn the pieces over, but baste the duck as it fries. Drain the lightly browned duck on kitchen paper.
Combine all the braising sauce ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the duck halves and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pan and slowly braise the duck for 1 hour, or until it is tender.
Now make the garlic and vinegar dipping sauce. Combine the garlic and vinegar in a small dish and allow to sit for at least ten minutes before using.
Once the duck is cooked, skim off the large amount of surface fat that will have accumulated. This procedure will prevent the duck from becoming greasy. Now remove the duck halves from the sauce with a slotted spoon. Let them cool, then chop them into smaller pieces. Arrange on a warm platter, garnish with the fresh coriander and serve at once, with the Garlic and Vinegar Sauce. Alternatively, you can let the duck cool thoroughly and serve it at room temperature. Once the braising sauce has cooled, remove any lingering surface fat. It can now be frozen and re-used to braise duck or chicken. This dish reheats beautifully.