Thursday, 8 November 2012

Vietnamese Duck Stew

I am quite fond of the European kitchen. Maybe I got discouraged by the few times when I have tried to cook Asian food and it didn't work, maybe it's my time spent in Thailand where the food was amazing but I was missing home food too much, maybe it's the fact that I really can't be bothered to store all the asian sauces and spices in my student kitchen. 

But recently there was a celebration of a VIP's birthday coming up and I was searching for a recipe to cook his favourite - duck. I knew I will cook the traditional roast duck with roast potatoes, parsnips and cranberry-port sauce. And I did:

But past experience showed that the birthday boy gets quite hungry and is capable of finishing a whole duck by himself. Therefore I knew I will not get away with one duck breast - I had to do one more. But I consider him to be too good to have 2 duck breasts cooked the same way! So I decided to try something new, something my mum suggested. 

If you live in a small town and do not have a wide stock of Asian spices, it might take you a while. In total, the preparation for this dish took me 3 days. But if you do have them and you feel like something warming and full of Vietnamese flavours - please give it a try and you won't regret it! It's delicious, the duck becomes so tender and you can appreciate every single flavour in the sauce...

The recipe is adapted from this website. Makes enough for 4 people.

2-2.5kg duck, cut into large pieces, or duck breasts cut into pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
50 g fresh ginger
5 anis stars
1-4 small chillies (depending on your spiciness preference)
2 sticks of lemongrass
800 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
freshly ground pepper
8 sticks of spring onion
1 tbsp cornflour

Pour the olive oil into a big pot and start heating up. Put the duck in with the greasy part on the bottom. Try and distribute evenly in the pot and if you need more space start layering it. Fry until the grease melts and the skin of it becomes golden brown (around 6 minutes). Turn it over and fry until the colour changes to light brown (about 2 minutes). Take the duck out on a plate and put away for now. 

Pour the duck grease out and leave about 1 tbs of it in the pot (you can use the remaining grease for delicious roast potatoes). Peel the garlic, smash it with the flat part of the knife, peel the ginger and slice in thin slices. 

Put the garlic and the ginger into the same pot and cook until it releases the aroma on a low heat. Add the anis stars, washed chillies in full, lemongrass (peeled and cut into large pieces) and pan-fry for a minute or two. Pour in the orange juice and the fish sauce, sugar, pepper and finally the duck. Cover up with a slightly breathable lid and cook on a low hear for about 2 hours stirring from time to time. When there is about half an hour left to cook, add the chopped spring onion.

When it's time to serve, take the duck out on a plate and add the cornflour to the sauce in the pot, stir in until it thickens, out a few tablespoons of water if it feels too strong and pour over the duck. I served it as a starter on its own, but you it would most commonly be served with rice.

It really is absolutely delicious, a real treat!!

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