Happy Lunar New Year!
In line with my New Year’s resolution to blog more, I’m making it a point to post at least once a week. The latter half of 2012 has been a little quiet on my site, and I apologize for that. If you’ve been following my blog, I thank you for your readership. I feel like you have accompanied me through my journey both as a food blogger and a doctor.
Being Asian, I get to double dip in the New Year celebrations and I get a second chance at the New Year’s resolutions if I procrastinated the first few weeks of the New Year! Please don’t misunderstand me; it’s not a chore to post a blog or share a recipe or to make something in the kitchen. The career I have chosen often leaves little time for me to pursue my hobbies and interests. On my bucket list I still haven’t checked off formula racing, speaking fluent German and Japanese, playing piano and guitar beautifully, and seeing much more of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
But I digress. Today, I am sharing this traditional Chinese (originating from Shanghai) dish that is a treasured meal to my family. It’s treasured because we have it only on very special occasions like Chinese New Year, and we have never cooked this dish at home since it is a very challenging one to master. So that’s why I gladly accepted the challenge when my parents-in-law requested to have it home made for once.
As the name “eight treasure duck” implies, this dish is a duck that is marinated and stuffed with 8 specially chosen ingredients and cooked until it is soft and the meat just falls off the bones. The ingredients can vary from chef to chef, but in my case I included some of the more traditional choices which are the favorites in my family. The stuffing is particularly delicious; so delicious that it deserves to be on various lists of foods to die for, foods to eat before your die, and the like.
I urge you to try it for yourself! If you have never tried eight treasure duck, you’re in for a treat! If this is also a tradition in your family on Chinese New Year, I invite you to have it home made this year. Regardless of how you enjoy it this year, may you be surrounded by your family and blessed with good fortune, abundance, and merriment for many generations to come.
20 g barley
20 g green mung beans
1 whole young duck
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp five-spice powder
7 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
30 g dried longan
7 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 salty duck eggs
8 whole chestnuts
6 fresh water chestnuts, halved and peeled
3 links Chinese sausage, chopped at a sharp diagonal
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 star aniseed
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 g fresh ginger, minced
Soak the barley and greens beans overnight in enough cold water to cover. The next day, drain well and set aside.
Place the duck onto its back and crack the ribs by pressing firmly down onto the breast bone. Repeat 2 or 3 more times in different places along the breast bone. Blanch the duck in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well. Rub the salt all over the duck, and place the duck in a large baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until well combined. Brush all of the soy sauce mixture all over the skin of the duck and inside the cavity. Cover and marinate for 3 hours in the fridge, turning the duck every 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the dried longan and shiitake mushrooms together in a bowl in enough cold water to cover for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain, but reserve the soaking water.
Cut the salty duck eggs in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the egg yolk. Discard the egg white (or reserve it the fridge for another use).
Boil the chestnuts in enough water to cover for 3 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.
Gather the prepared 8 treasures onto a large platter.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the star aniseed, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the Chinese sausage, barley, and mung beans and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add the shiitake mushrooms, longan, chestnuts, and water chestnuts. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the salty duck egg yolks and cook for another minute. Remove the skillet from the heat, set aside, and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350oF with a rack in the middle.
Stuff the duck with the 8 treasures. It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but trust me, it will all fit inside the duck. Lift the breastbone to fit more ingredients inside. Use toothpicks to secure the opening of the cavity.
Set the duck on a roasting rack inside a dish lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Tent with aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Baste the duck with some of the oil drippings followed by reserved mushroom-longan soaking liquid. Try to baste the stuffing as well, by injecting the basting liquid through the opening of the cavity between the toothpicks.
Tent with aluminum foil and bake for another 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for about 20 minutes.
Transfer the duck using a wad of soaked paper towels to a large serving platter, breast side down. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut along both sides of the vertebral column to remove it. Carefully turn the duck so that it is breast side up, opening the duck to expose the stuffing. Serve immediately.