5-Spiced Soy Braised Duck — Whip It UP!

By: Jessica Ham

Lor Ark, or Soy Braised Duck is a Teochew classic but it’s also eaten in homes of other dialect Chinese. This is often served to mark special occasions.


Total Time: 3½ hours
Cost: $12.00
Difficulty: 3/5
Serves: 3-4

A: Braising Items

½ duck (approx. 530gm), cut into half, washed
4 teaspoons 5-spice powder
2 tablespoons oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
Thumb-size ginger*, peeled and sliced
3 star anises
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons thick soy sauce
70g rock sugar, to taste
½ teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
½ teaspoon ground white pepper


B: To Rid Duck of Gamey Smell

1 large lemon, thickly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 litres water


Photo: Evonne Lyn Lee



1. Rub salt all over duck. Put it into a large mixing bowl filled with water. Squeeze lemon juice into the bowl; add in lemon as well. Let duck soak for 1 hour. Drain and set it aside. Discard water.

Soak duck in lemon-scented water.


2. Bring 2 litres of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Place duck into boiling water for 15-20 minutes to remove any impurities and blood. Remove duck and pat dry. Rub 5-spice powder all over the duck including the cavity. Marinate for 30 minutes.


Rub duck with 5-spice powder.


3. Heat up oil in a wok or medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir fry garlic, shallots, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick until aromatic.

Clockwise: Sugar cubes, salt, ground pepper, 5-spices, cinnamon stick and star anise.

4. Add duck and fry until light brown on both sides. Pour water in to cover duck — this ensures the bird is cooked evenly.

5. Add soy sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper and rock sugar. Taste sauce to adjust seasoning before removing saucepan from heat. Lower heat. Let duck simmer until meat is tender, around 1½-2 hours.

6. Check duck periodically, adding more water if required. To test if the duck is cooked insert a satay stick or skewer into the thickest part of the drumstick. If juices run clear, it is cooked. However, if the meat is tinted with blood, continue cooking until it is fully done.

7. Serve duck with steamed rice or porridge.


TIP: Substitute ginger with galangal (lengkuas) for earthy, citrusy aromas.


TECHNIQUE: Soaking duck in a lemon-water solution aids in stripping the bird of some of its gamey odour. Ginger or galangal, garlic, shallots and 5-spice powder are additional ingredients that work together not only to mask the odour but also to flavour the braising liquid.


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  1. Appreciate ur recipe sounds real good.’i would like to know wat brand of five spice u used or did u mix the five spices from scratch . I understand the seah brand is quite nice. The Penang five spice is too hokkien oriented. Any inputs?

  2. Hi Su, thanks for your interest in the duck recipe. As for Seah, we don’t endorse any brand. Not tried Seah brand of spices before. However, here’s a tip: Buy 5-spices from any Chinese medical hall or get it from any Chinese vendor selling spices/curry powder at wet markets. They are usually specially concocted and are generally fresher than those sold at supermarkets. Do share with us how the recipe turns out. Please continue to check Whip It UP! columns every Friday for more recipes. Happy cooking!

    • Hi Devin, yes, I’d imagine so as it’s working with a water medium to cook food. Do try it and let us know how it goes.

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