Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Asian Roasted Duck Soup

Okay, it’s the middle of summer here in Australia and instead of craving ice blocks or fruit salad I would much rather sit down with a nice big bowl of soup. That is what I would consider as unusual. But we all have those comfort foods that we just cannot resist, even if it is the most inappropriate weather or situation when we want it.

Lately, I have gained a slight obsession with Asian style clear broths and soups. In the past, I assumed that unless a soup had coconut milk in it than it would be as tasteless as water. I was so wrong! After trying many different styles of clear broths, Vietnamese crab, tofu and tomato, or Chinese style stewed mutton broth, I am now convinced that Asian broths are by far the best and tastiest! (I see a pattern of me claiming that everything ‘is the best’...)
Another thing which I have gained an obsession with (under influence of my sister) is coconut juice. I am not referring to ‘coconut water’, the stuff that is sold in health food shops for $5 a bottle but to the juice you will find in a plastic sealed cup in the refrigerator or freezer section of most Asian Grocers selling for only $1.50. Real coconut juice is by far so much superior, more refreshing and is the most delicious when it has been sweetened with cane sugar.
If you ever do see coconut juice, please do try it! It is so delicious and once you have tried it, it is impossible to never crave it again! But warning, do not buy the stuff sold on the cans, for some reason the juice tastes metallic and off. I learnt that the hard way and ended up wasting $2....

Anywhoo... I know you’re wondering, what does coconut juice have to do with the soup? I didn’t get side tracked; I simply believe that if you do make this soup (especially in the summer), having coconut juice on the side may just help to cool you off before you begin perspiring into your soup! (Not that I did).
The recipe for this soup comes from a book. I’m not sure which book however, but I have tweaked the soup to my likings. The original recipe called for 5 litres of water, I used only about 3 and still made a lot of soup! This recipe can also be made in advance, the stock can be made in the morning, or day before and everything else finished off at the end of the day, or when serving.
Asian Roasted Duck Soup

For the stock
1 whole chinese roast duck*
11 cups of water
2 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
A knob (2 inch piece) of ginger, sliced
2 spring onions
2 tablespoons each hoi sin and tamari (or soy sauce)

For the soup
20g each dried shitake mushrooms and wood ear fungus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
115g fresh baby corn, sliced in half on the diagonal
200g snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
400g choy sum (can use bok choy, Kan Kung, or all I just prefer choy sum) cut into 2cm lengths and well cleaned
100ml oyster sauce
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
2 small chillies, chopped
500g preferred noodles (egg, udon, soba, rice)
Chopped coriander, chopped Thai basil, ground white pepper and bean sprouts (to serve)

Remove the meat and skin from the duck, thinly slice and set aside.

Put the bones and skin of the duck in a large sauce pan and cover with the water. Place all other stock ingredients in with the duck bones.  Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove, squeeze dry and finely chop. Discard the stems as you go. (With the Wood ear fungus, I sliced it into ribbons)

Drain the stock and discard the bones and used herbs. (Look for any pieces of meat that may still be on the bones and use it for your soup)

Heat a large saucepan on high heat and add the olive and sesame oils. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds, add the duck meat and fry for another minute, stirring as you go.

Add the corn, snow peas, spring onion, choy sum and mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the oyster sauce tamari, chillies and stock and simmer until heated through.

In another sauce pan filled with boiling water cook the noodles until tender and drain.

To serve, put the noodles at the bottom of each bowl, top with the bean sprouts and then ladle in the soup. Garnish with the fresh herbs and lots of white pepper. Eat while it’s still hot!

*For this recipe, I advise, that when buying the roasted duck (which can be purchased from any good Chinese butcher or BBQ store) ask them to cut it up for you, but make sure you ask to keep the bones and head as you will need this for the stock, a mistake I unfortunately made.

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