Monday, July 23, 2012

Chinese 8 Treasure Duck (八宝鸭) Recipe =)

A traditional and delicious dish that's slowly becoming "endangered"!!

Hey fellas!

The other day, I so happened to be having a chat with April on Instagram about one of my biggest food aspirations, which is to learn the ways to cook as well as history behind ALL the traditional Chinese dishes that I grew up eating at home from my Mother. Which is what I got to do when I was back in Kota Kinabalu for a month. There's so many that I hold dear to my heart since I was young. But today, I'd like to introduce you to a dish that's very special to my family, which is the 8 Treasure Duck.

Another reason why I'm particularly passionate about sharing about this dish is because:
1) It's one of Dad's favourites and a dish that my family and I cherish a lot on special occasions
2) It seriously is one of those "endangered dishes" that's slowly growing extinct

I'm not even kidding. It really is a dish that's more common to my parent's generation and I later realised that not a lot of people I know have had them before. Not to mention, this dish doesn't appear in the menus of any Chinese restaurant anymore (except for a very rare few, as I've mentioned in my post on Dad's 60th). As for my family, this dish isn't a dish we cook at home very often as well but we have on a few special occasions over the years and I'd be SO sad if it actually went "extinct" one day!!

That's why, it's times like these when I'm really grateful to have a blog because I get to share with people my food experiences, especially the ones that are very personal to me.

So what is the 8 Treasure Duck (八宝鸭) ?

It's basically a traditional Chinese dish (with Shanghainese origins, I believe) that's first marinated, fried, stuffed with 8 different ingredients (hence, the "treasures" or "jewels" of the dish) before it's steamed or braised till soft and falling off the bone. Absolutely DELICIOUS.

Making the 8 Treasure Duck (八宝鸭)

As Traditional as this dish may be, every family (or restaurant chef) adopts slightly different methods and ingredients for their recipes, which is fine.

But, in terms of INGREDIENTS:
My parents still think that the core ingredients should always include glutinous rice and dried shrimps at the very, very least. Other common "jewels" that you may see in other versions of this dish include dried scallops, chinese ham, gingko nuts and so on. BUT, if you have trouble finding all the ingredients, don't fret. Feel free to include anything that you feel suitable or like to eat =)

As for the METHOD:
Some may choose to debone the duck (so it's easier to eat and allows you to put more "fillings" in the dish) but we highly discourage this because it's so much more work. Plus, the bones actually add much more flavour to the dish, especially for the "treasures" encased in the cavity. We also chose to stick with this quantity of ingredients (even though it definitely can't all fit in one bird) because you'd be gathering all these various ingredients anyway, so you might as well take a bit more and steam the extras into "Lo Mai Fan" aka "Steamed Glutinous Rice" which people can enjoy.

Finally, the other thing that crossed my mind was whether this would be a dish I'd be make in Melbourne too, or only in Malaysia where I have a bigger kitchen. The answer is: YES. Because, the splatter from deep frying the duck was not as bad as I imagined and if you read the recipe below, it's pretty easy and straight-forward too!

So, there you have it. Very happy to be sharing this precious family recipe with all of you today and I truly hope you will make this to share with your friends and family too so we can keep this traditional Chinese recipe alive for many generations to come =)

The extra side of "Lo Mai Fan", which is just as awesome to eat... Especially with some chilli on the side


8 Treasure Duck Recipe

N.B.: The bacon was later replaced with dried red dates and the duck had been fried in this shot


For the duck:
1 whole duck (2.0 - 2.5kg)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp 5 spice powder
Oil for frying (around 2.5 L)

For the filling:
2 pieces lap cheong  (cut to thin, diagonal strips)
1/2 cup dried lotus seeds  (soaked 24hrs, then drained)
5 pieces dried chinese mushrooms  (soaked 24hrs, then drained)
2.5 tbsp dried shrimps  (rinsed, drained then drained)
1 medium carrot                                 (diced)
1 1/4 cups glutinous rice (soaked 24hrs, then drained)
5 dried red dates (pitted, but some packets sell pitted ones already)
2 yolks of salted duck egg
2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
Splash of Shao Xing wine
1/4 cup hot water (for the bird)
Extra hot water (for the rice)

For the sauce:
1 tbsp corn starch + 3 tbsp water
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Rub the soy sauce all over the duck and marinate in the fridge overnight.

2. Pit the soaked lotus seeds and remove the green stems (because it's bitter)

4. Heat up enough oil in a large wok until it covers at least HALF the duck. Once hot, place the duck in the wok and fry until DARK (not golden). Later, turn the duck and fry the other side until dark as well. Set aside.

5. Dice mushrooms and chop dried shrimps finely. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl (except for the hot water).

6. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the filling. You will have extra filling but don't worry. Pat gently to enclose. Pour 1/4 cup of hot water into the cavity (to help the steaming process).

7. With the extra filling, place in a metal/glass container and fill till half with hot water. Steam this together with the duck later and you will have extra "Lo Mai Fan" aka "Steamed Glutinous Rice" on the side =). 

8. Place the stuffed bird and container of glutinous rice in a large, deep metal dish. Steam in a wok under the LOWEST heat for 2hr 30min. Take a wet cloth to wrap the handle of the wok to stop air escaping from the wok. Check water level and top up with hot water, if necessary (though I never had to top up with water!)

Note: If the container of glutinous rice can't fit on the metal dish with the bird, steam separately for 45minutes after the bird is done.

9. Once done, remove bird onto a serving plate and also the container of rice. Pour the remaining sauce into a small pot and place under low heat. Add the corn starch solution. Once bubbling and thickened, season with salt and pepper to taste.

10. Drizzle sauce over the duck at the table once guests are seated/dinner is ready. Decorate with blanched broccoli florets. ENJOY =)

DIG IN!!! The "treasure" was well worth the effort and UBER delicious

Would also like to take this opportunity to give a quick shoutout to the amazing Julie (of Gourmet Getaways). Julie is a fantastic blogger and an even better individual who's shown so much interest in Chinese cooking and had asked for this recipe from the start. So, I'm dedicating this recipe to you, Julie!! Thanks so much for the great friendship and inspiration all this while and I hope your family enjoys this recipe!! =)

1 comment :

Shu Han said...

DEFINITELY well worth the effort man. Gosh that duck looks so succulent and tender, and the fillign inside, really I could probably happpily just dig into the stuffing, it's already so rich with goodies like lap cheong and dates and lotus seeds and chestnuts. Thanks for being so generous to share this family recipe!!

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