BRAISED DUCK WITH TARO
Restaurant menus could use a little creativity. What is it about Cantonese food that is so uniform? What is it about all Shanghainese and Sichuan restaurants that are so consistent? This is common at Chinese, Thai, Indian, Greek, and Italian eateries.
At restaurants, my eyes are constantly open to the possibility of something new. Even if it’s only one new ingredient, I’d be thrilled to have it in my meal. Even if you’ve never had braised duck before, it’s worth a try because it’s a dish that can bring back memories of your grandparents’ or parents’ cooking.
I first tasted it when Bill’s father made this Braised Duck with Taro many years ago. You won’t be able to get it in a restaurant like many of our other classic dishes. I suppose the Woks of Life are here to assist fill the emptiness, I think.
- 4 to 5 pounds duck
- 1 1/2 pounds of large taro (680g)
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 small piece of rock sugar (approx. 3/4 inch long, about 1/2 oz.)
- 5 slices of ginger
- 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
- 3 scallions (white and green parts separated)
- 1/4 cup of Shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp. of oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. of dark soy sauce
- 2 cups of water
- Get rid of any blood and gaminess from the frozen duck by thawing and soaking it in water for 30 minutes. Do a thorough cleaning of the duck’s body, both inside and out. The duck should be drained and dried with a paper towel. Remember to remove the tail before cutting the duck into 1″ x 2″ pieces. Remove from consideration.
- After removing the outer layer of the taro, wash it thoroughly and peel it. After washing and drying the taro, cut it into 12 inch thick chunks. Shallow fry the taro chunks in oil over medium heat until the edges of all sides JUST start to brown (you’ll need to flip them once). Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be done in two separate sessions. Once the heat has been removed, take them out and place them in a bowl.
- After you’ve taken all of the oil, leave about 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Low heat is ideal for melting the rock sugar in the oil. Allow the whites of the scallions, ginger, and garlic to simmer for one to two minutes before adding them. A medium-high flame should be used to quickly warm up and evenly distribute the duck pieces. 2 minutes on each side) and then add the Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce and light soy sauce (as well as fermented bean curd if using), dark soy sauce, and water to the duck. To prevent the mixture from drying out, keep it covered and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring once to keep it from sticking on the wok.
- Cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally to keep the taro from sticking. Pour a bit more water if it appears to be drying out. Once the taro is fully cooked, the dish is complete. Overstirring or overcooking the taro will cause it to crumble. Serve and garnish with chopped scallions’ green parts.