Duck is actually quite a favourite dish for the Foochows. Ever since young I have heard stories of how my grand uncle and grand father were duck farmers in China. My maternal grandmother used to tell me when she was a child bride she often looked forward to a special duck egg lunch when she behaved well and did her housework.
As I grew older I realised how wonderful mee sua would taste when ever the soup was made from a big fat and good breed of duck. When my sister and I went down with measles my mother quickly booked a "vegetable" duck or mixed breed to steam for our quick recuperation. Young children could even die from measles.
Amongst many of my friends who have long memories....sharing a duck at home with mum cooking it is a "love you day". I like that. When mum shows you love she shows you through a duck soup....or any whole duck dish. One of my aunts slaughtered one of her own ducks and steamed the duck to make 500 ml of duck essence. She then took the trouble to send the whole bottle of Duck Soup in the 70's through an in-law who travelled by MAS to Miri. The delays in the flight caused a lot of anxiety on both ends. But the son did finally get the duck essence. He is one lucky son! It would be nice to have a promotional movie with this for MAS - MAS can deliver love in a bottle :) :)
Traditional Asian mothers and in particular Foochow mothers are well known for "sending" /"kirim" things for their children.
Mind you many Foochow mothers are so stern that they would never say "I love you". But take it from me...if there is a duck on the table your mum is saying "I love you...." Each time my children come home I would do a Pak Lo duck or a simple steamed duck (for essence only). For these occuasions freshly killed duck would be more suitable. But prices have really gone up these days.
It is lovely to learn that lots of frozen ducks are now available in Miri and it is less than half the price of a freshly killed duck in the wet market.. Thanks to West Malaysian duck farmers!
So if you can cook ducks using a simple method and make the best use of the opportunity to eat a duck and celebrate a lovely day like Valentine's Day......why not?
1 duck (frozen or fresh)
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 tablespoon five spice (optional)
* I do not use Aji-no-moto or vitsin.
1. Defrost a duck 12 hours before cooking if you are using a frozen duck) and drain all the liquid.
2. cut off the legs and head and the bishop's nose if you wish.
3. Flatten the duck on a roasting dish - use a Chinese cleaver to do this. Break the backbone if you can to make it really flat and easier to chop later) pat dry the duck skin .Apply first layer of salt on the skin and the cavity. You can lavishly splash a mixture of salt and pepper and five spice on the cavity. Rest for half an hour.
4. Apply another layer of salt. Rest for 15 minutes.
5. Dry the duck skin again with a kitchen towel or thick tissue.
6. Pop the duck into a pre- heated oven at 200 degrees and bake until the skin is crispy. That would take about 30 minutes depending on the size of your oven.By then the skin would be fragrant and shiny. Some blisters would also form. A golden sheen could be seen too. ( If you have a bigger duck (e.g. Serati ) you may need 45 mins to 1 hour. of slow cooking and lower heat later.)
7. Lower the heat and cook slowly for another 15 minutes. A small 2 kg duck should be done by then.
8. Use a Chinese cleaver and cut the duck into 2inx3in slices or any size you like (see picture)
9. Do not cover the duck when hot because the skin would not remain crispy once moisture is introduced.
You can if you like debone the whole duck and use the same recipe. It's easy!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.....I wish I can cook lots of this for you or send you a bottle of duck essence.....
Note: crispy whole duck costs RM48 or more in the market but my duck above cost me RM24.00 only...So you can save the money and buy flowers for your loved ones or buy another duck...Fresh ducks in Miri cost RM20 -24 a kg.....)