It's been a slow blogging week. To be honest, I've been having a series of disasters in the kitchen, so there's been nothing of an acceptable quality to share. What have I learned?
1. Cauldron's marinaded tofu is rubbish. Better to buy the normal stuff and fry it - or even better go to Chinatown and buy some authentic stuff. Or make your own (I'm kidding). Still, needs must, and they sell it in Sainsbury's. I've had two attempts now at stir-fried tofu and veg and both of them have been pants
2. Trying to come home from work on time, cook, chat with your big sis, disentangle the grumpy toddler from your legs whilst manoeuvring a wok of hot oil, set the table for 5 kids and 2 adults - and get everyone's hands washed whilst the food is still hot - is a feat for a better woman than me. I should have gone to the chippy!
3. Not everyone is in the fortunate position of having a whole cooked duck in the freezer because they couldn't get through the food their parents brought them before it went off. Not everyone except the Chinese, that is.....
So I cooked this dish with the defrosted cooked duck, which was originally meant for 香酥鴨, or crispy shredded duck - that most beloved of Cantonese dishes and one that no-one makes better than my Dad. He forgot to bring the pancakes that day, so into the freezer it went. I'm going to write this recipe as if it was a raw duck I was starting with, as the cooked duck fell apart too much in the slow cooker. When I (ever) get around to making it again, I'll update the photo.
Lotus root can be bought from the Chinese supermarket, and is a tasty, firm-textured ingredient. It is quite fibrous, which might not be to everyone's liking, but I love it - it's very versatile and can be served cold and sweet as a Shanghainese appetiser, but I prefer it slow-cooked or in soups, so that it takes on all of the flavours it is cooked in (I copied the image from Cooking the Books).
- 1 duck, jointed into portions
- 1 packet of lotus root, sliced into 1cm thicknesses
- 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconsituted by soaking in hot water for a couple of hours and sliced thickly
- 5 slices of ginger, bashed with the flat of a cleaver
- 4 cloves of garlic, bashed with the flat of a cleaver
- 3-4 stalks of spring onion, roots cut off, green and white parts cut into 6cm lengths
- 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 800ml water
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
- 2-3 shakes of sesame oil
- (Optional) salt for seasoning
- 1 piece of fermented red beancurd (南乳), with 1-2 tbsp of the sauce from the jar
- 1-2 tsp sugar (I used granulated sugar, but rock sugar if you have it, is better)
- 1 tbsp miso paste (I used Clearspring miso paste from Sainsbury's)
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1-2 tsp cornflour
- Using a fork, prick the skin of the duck all over (it's probably easiest to do this before you chop it into portions)
- Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the duck pieces and fry until the oil starts to render, and the duck is well browned. Remove the duck from the wok, shaking off any excess oil, and place into the bottom of the slow cooker
- Add the ginger, garlic, spring onion, sichuan peppercorns and star anise to the wok and stir-fry quickly until fragrant. Remove from the wok and place into a spice pouch. Tie the pouch and place it into the slow cooker
- Drain most of the oil from the wok and add the fermented red bean curd (南乳) with its sauce. Mash it up and fry it in the wok, then add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir-fry briefly. Add the sliced mushrooms and lotus root slices and mix well
- Add the mushroom and lotus root to the slow cooker with as much of the sauce as you can scrape out. Add the water until a couple of cms from the top of the mixture, and cook on low for 8-10 hours
- Turn off the heat and add salt to taste if required. Add a couple of drops of sesame oil
- If you prefer the sauce to be thicker, place the contents of the slow cooker in a wok, and reheat to a gentle boil. Add increments of cornflour mixed in water (1 tsp cornflour to 20ml water) and mix into the sauce until you have achieved the required consistency
|Slow-Cooked Duck with Lotus Root (蓮藕炆鴨) - I need to update this photo next time I cook it!|