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