Sunday, February 8, 2009

Taro Duck

To end our Chinese New Year celebration and in observance of the gathering dinner for the 15th day of the celebration, I attempted this dish. I don't remember when and where I had this dish before but I definitely had it before. Perhaps at one of those elaborate restaurant dinners where everyone just sit around the table, chat and waited to be served.

This is a Cantonese dish where the duck is first steamed with all the required sauces and spices and the taro is steamed and mashed separately and lastly both are put together and deep fried to crisp texture on the outside and tender meat in the inside with the soft taro as top coating. The preparation took a lot of time and luckily today was Sunday and Curry can entertain the kids while I attended to the almost 4 hours from start to finish of this dish.

I adopted the technique I used in the making of the Taro Puffs to this dish and this time I got the deep frying oil right from the start. This dish normally looks flat where the duck is deboned and cut to very thin slice and then coated with the mashed taro but I was too ecstatic that I managed to separate and deboned the breast meat from the whole duck carcass in 2 solid pieces and couldn't be bothered to thin cut it like those prepared in the restaurants. Afterall, who doesn't like chunky pieces of meat and this is what homemade is all about, stuffed and satisfied must be the last word after the meal! For a 3.5lb duck and minus the bones, I managed to get 2 oval plates sizes of this dish where one was more meaty with the breast than the other that I made with the scraps and pieces from the shreading of the remaining parts of the duck. The sauce is derived from the 2 hours steaming of the duck which was thicken with cornstarch and served with scallion and lettuce. I love taro and duck and this dish managed to combine the 2 into a complementing taste with the soft taro giving a slight tinge of sweetness and earthy taste while the duck is gamey and the slight chewiness of its meat together with its heavily flavored sauce which is soaked up by the taro, makes it a mouthful.

Ingredients :

Part A
3-1/2 lb duck
2 star Anise
1 knob ginger, sliced to thin sticks
2 scallion, cut to thin pieces
2 cubes of Chinese fermented Red Tofu ('Nam Yue')
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce

Part B
1-1/2 lb steamed taro
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup wheat starch
5 Tbsp Vegetable shortening

1 egg beaten
cornstarch (1 tsp cornflour added to 2 tsp water)
4 to 6 cups oil for deep frying

Method :
1) Clean duck, cut off the back side which contains the most fat. Pat dry with paper towel.

2)Mix all the rest of the ingredients in Part A in a bowl and wipe and pat all over the outside and inside of the duck.

3)Tuck the duck with the breast side up and tie the legs together with twine (this was done because my steaming plate was small and to avoid the duck fat dropping into the steaming water).

4)Prepare a steamer till water is boiling, steam the duck for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, till tender and meat easily separated from the bones.

5)Remove the duck from the steamer once done and let cool a bit for easy handling. Cut off the twine and reserve the liquid from the plate which will be the dipping sauce. Steam the taro next, for 15 to 20 minutes till it is tender and can be mashed.

6)While the taro is steaming, debone the duck. The breast part should be easier than the rest. Cut slowly so that the breast detach from the bones in one piece. I used up the rest of the duck meat, hence I made 2 plates and if only the breasts are used, save up the rest and bones for making duck soup.

7)When the taro is cooked, mash it up and add 1/2 cup of the Wheat starch together with the vegetable shortening and the rest of the seasonings. Mash and combine all thoroughly with masher and hand. Finally add in the remaining 1/2 cup of the Wheat starch and combine evenly.

8)Beat the egg and add in the cornstarch. Dip the breasts and duck meat into this egg wash and take some taro and pat onto the duck, encassing & wrapping up all over.

9)Heat wok with the deep frying oil till very hot and bubbly. Use a chinese spider skimmer or huge frying spatula and deep them into the hot oil before placing the taro duck onto them for the deep frying. This avoid the sticking of the taro paste to the utensils. Fry each breast for 1 to 2 minutes, turning on both sides till brown but do not over fry. They cook very fast. Drain them on paper towels and let cool for handling and cutting into pieces.

10)Heat the reserved sauce in a pan and thicken with cornstarch (1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tsp water). Add chopped scallion and serve with lettuce.

Serves 6 to 8 persons


Agnes @ rB said...

Woo! Glad you like the recipe I found for you. Time to clean up the messy bookshelves now xD...jk

Momsiecal said...

boleh tahan lah you, J!

oddcookie said...

Thanks for this recipe-taro duck
but is wheat starch flour?

Lily Anette said...


The wheat starch is in a "flour" form. You can definitely find it in an Asian store, next to the glutinous or rice flour. Send me an email and I can snap the picture of the package for you. For a first timer, it is difficult to look for it.

Annie said...

I'm super lazy and I don't want to cook a whole duck. Does it work the same just using duck breast?

Lily Anette said...

Annie: I would think so. The important thing here is the deep frying oil must be at the right temperature. Heat it up slowly and have a lot of patience. The test: drop a flake or two of the taro mixture into the oil & if it fizzles and sizzles immediately the oil is ready. Once the duck is inside control the temperature by turning down a bit so that the duck meat will cook thoroughly with the taro. Happy cooking.