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One duck, two dishes
Hakka plum duck and kiam chye duck soup by Cherin Tan
“Kiam chye soup has held fond memories for me since I was a kid, the rare random occasion (because duck was expensive) where mum would feed me while i watch my favourite 6pm cartoon. I would not move an inch from the seat because the sourness & umami from the soup just kept me going on and wanting more. Even back in my secondary school days, I would wait for my best friend & classmates in anticipation to finish their Home Econs class just so I can devour multiple bowls of soup. Lessons I’ve learnt from all that varied tasting – always opt for fresh duck and fresh greens. Boil until the soup’s colour changes & thickens. Also, bones will always be your best friend so more duck bones if you want to up the intensity.” – Cherin Tan (@cherin_tan)”
Cherin Tan’s Kiam Chye Duck Soup
1kg or 2 packets of preserved/ salted mustard greens (buy these preserved/ salted mustard greens, also affectionately known as kiam chye, from your local wet market or supermarket)
2 thick ginger pieces
A handful of white peppercorns
6 salted plums
1 teaspoon or tablespoon of brandy
Wash your duck clean, remove all the offal within. Run with salt, then rinse again. Butcher your duck into pieces, and slice up a whole onion. Sort your duck – I like to stretch my ingredients to make my buck more worth it, so I set aside 1 breast, the drums and the wings for a different purpose. The rest of the duck, I use to make this soup. Parts used: feet, butt, 1 breast, carcass, neck. Take 6 tomatoes and chop each tomato into 4. Shape won’t matter but size does. Keep them chunky because it all disintegrates into the soup eventually. Wash the kiam chye (do not soak) and separate the leaves. Also slice 2 thick ginger pieces and set aside. Toast a handful of white peppercorns. You know it’s ready when you can smell the pepper.
Dump it all into a stock-pot with the salted plums, fill with water and let it do its magic. If using a stove, boil 15-20 minutes on high heat, then 2 hours on low heat. If using a pressure cooker, set pressure to 60, and duration for 1 hour.
Life changing tip: add a tablespoon or teaspoon (depending on your severity of alcoholism) of brandy to soup when ready to serve.
“Plum duck is typically a classic traditional Hakka dish enjoyed during Chinese New Year. The Hokkien in me can’t resist putting a spin on this, so this really is my own adaptation on a sour plum duck, digging deep into memories & experience from the older folks. I wanted something that i could enjoy not just during Chinese New Year, but also any other day that calls for a little comfort. Best eaten on the same day unlike Caucasian stew, and with rice. Save up all that gravy as well cos it makes a hell of a good sauce based for some duck noodles the next morning!” - Cherin Tan (@cherin_tan)
Cherin Tan’s Plum Duck
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon minced garlic or 2 cloves garlic
Wings, drums and 1 breast from one duck or 4 duck legs
1 thick slice of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce
135g hoisin sauce
6 preserved plums
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
4 star anise
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok and fry the onions and minced garlic until fragrant. Remove and set aside. Fry the duck in the oil in the pan until browned. Combine everything in a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stew on low for 4 hours. Save the gravy to make duck noodles the next morning.