Chaozhou Brine Water Duck is one of the most famous regional dishes in Chinese. The way to prepare the brine water represents the essence of Chinese cooking by using a wide variety of herbs. The ingredients I have used can find it in larger Chinatown centers in North America like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver. Although it is harder to find all of it in smaller Chinatown, I am sure you can find at last 80% of the herbs I listed here. The other fact about this brine water, it is re-usable! It’ll even taste better after each time you use it. Just make sure it reaches boiling point again for ten minutes after every cooking. Let it cool off and keep it in the freezer. I have been using my brine water for six years and it tastes wonderful. All you need to do is to add a reduce amount of basic ingredients to the brine water such as salt, sugar, garlic and ginger every time. Also add ¼ of the herbs every other time. When you go to the Chaozhou province in China, some restaurants actually advertise the year of the brine water just like the age of brandy or wine.
- It is always better to buy fresh duck. Unfortunately most cities in North American don’t sell fresh duck. Frozen ducks are perfectly acceptable for this recipe. When you buy frozen ducks, let it thaw in the fridge naturally for three day. If you leave it out on the counter overnight, it is easier to encourage bacteria to grow.
- When you store the brine water in the freezer, use a big container. There is no need to take out all the fat you see in the surface. Once it goes into the freezer for a day. The entire top will turn into a white thick layer of duck fat. You can easily take it out and discard it in a container for disposal.
- Never put any duck fat directly to your kitchen drain pipe. It’ll clog up your pipe really fast.
Young duck x1 about four to five lbs
Fried Tofu x4
Dry orange peel 1 piece
Anise 5 pieces
Saeng gan 5 pieces (Rhizoma Kaempferiae galangae) or Shan nai
Pricklyash Peel. 10 pieces
Garlic 5 pieces
Ginger 1 large piece
Green onion 2 x
Cinnamons stick 1 piece (large)
Dark soy sauce 1 ¼ cup
Salt ¾ cup
Rock sugar 1 lb
Water 5 liters
Bring 5 liters of water to boil and add soy sauce, rock sugar and salt. Put all the above d spices in a small cheese cloth bag and tie it tight and add to the water. Turn the heat down to medium low and let it cook for half an hour in order to let all the aroma to fuse into the water.
Wash the duck clean and remove all the excess fat near the tail. ( I usually remove the “Butt” as well) Put the duck slowly in the brine water and bring it to boil again. Roll the duck several times to even out the water temperature. Turn the heat to low and keep it right at boiling point. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook slowly for half an hour and rotate the duck (back to breast or breast to back) three to four times. Let it cook in low heat for two hours.
Make two hard boil eggs and remove the shell. Put the tofu and egg in the brine water along with the duck in the last half hour. Remove the duck, egg and tofu from the brine water and let it cool off to room temperature. Keep it outside the house or by the window so it can cool off faster.
Bring the brine water to boil again and remove all the spices from the liquid. Keep it in a freezer for reuse. If you want to use it again, remove the duck fat from the surface. It should look like a sheet of white marble on top. Add 1/5 of the above spices to the brine water and now you can cook another duck. Also add some salt, rock sugar and soy sauce as well. The longer you keep the brine water, the more ducks you cook in the brine water, the better the duck tastes. I’ve kept my brine for six years.
When I serve my duck, I usually remove the breast bone and cut up the breast meat in thin slices. Pour ¼ cup of brine water the duck after you cut it up before serving.
White vinegar 1/8 cup
Soy sauce 1 teaspoon
Chopped garlic ¼ teaspoon
Mix well and serve with duck.
Here are the extra steps to turn your duck into a smoke duck by using a regular patio style BBQ grill:
老抽 1 ¼ 杯
冰糖 1 磅
燒熱約5公斤清水至沸騰, 把以上滷水料放入滷水袋中, 再放入煲中, 加入老抽, 冰糖, 鹽, 用文火煲大約半小時至滷水有香味, 放入光鴨, 可把爐火轉為大火至滷水再沸騰, 再次轉為文火, 用大叉把鴨在滷水中反轉多次以便上色, 放上煲蓋, 每十五分鐘反轉鴨一次, 大約一小時半左右, 把鴨拿出滷水放上碟中, 等待凍後切件食用, 食時可加入少許滷水汁.
本人喜歡在煮鴨時加入豆腐, 珍肝,及雞蛋入滷水中若半小時, 以便入味, 取起後等待冷卻切片食用. 又可左滷水中加進鴨翼煮一小時, 即可成為潮州滷水鴨翼.
用完滷水後可把鴨油撇去以待日後再用, 再用之時可加入少許冰糖,及鹽. 這滷水可重複使用多次. 傳說中有十五年滷水, 信不信由你!