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Monday, April 6, 2015

Vịt Nướng Chao (Grilled Duck in Fermented Bean Curd)

It's good to be able to cook again in my own kitchen after a week of eating in Vegas, Anaheim, Solvang, and Santa Barbara. No matter how fine the food is, at the end of the day, I always crave for  a homemade meal.  For me, there is no food like homemade food!

I am very lucky that my local Costco carries quite a lot of Asian products. Most of my grocery shopping is done there. Last month, I dropped a note in the comment box at Costco and requested to bring in Three Crabs fish sauce. I will be a happy camper to see this brand of fish sauce on the shelves at Costco. 

Whenever I feel like cooking duck, you'd know where I go. I love Costco's whole duck. It's fresh and contains less fat. One of my favorite duck recipes is grilled duck marinated in fermented bean curd which is the delicacy preserved tofu immersed in brine and sesame oil.  This fermented bean curd adds a bold flavor you love to the earthy, slightly gamy flavors of the duck meat.  

Fermented bean curd is sold in jars containing small square cubes. There are three typical types of fermented bean curd: hot chili bean curd, white fermented bean curd and red fermented bean curd which incorporates red wine yeast with the brining liquor for a deep-red color and distinctively thickened flavor and aroma. 

Fermented bean curd is an acquired taste because of its complex, powerful scent, strong flavor, and smooth pasty texture.  This grilled duck in fermented bean curd is surprisingly delicious. Another way of cooking the duck is baking it in the oven.  The meat is juicy, tender, and flavorful.  If you're afraid of the gamy smell of duck, don't won't even notice it's duck.  

I like to serve the duck with sticky rice cooked in fresh spinach juice or carrot juice, and a side dish of baked assorted vegetables. In the hot summer day, I also like to serve this dish with the combination of fresh cubed mango, kernel, cilantro, jicama, lime juice, salt and fresh ground pepper.  
RECIPE:  Vịt Nướng Chao
Printable Recipe


1 fresh whole Duck, about 6 pounds 
10 cubes Red Fermented Bean Curd
10 cubes White Fermented Bean Curd
1 tablespoon White Fermented Bean Curd Sauce
1 tablespoon Red Fermented Bean Curd Sauce
4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons pounded Ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped Lemongrass
2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

Preparing Duck

Rinse the duck and the inside of the duck’s body cavity with cold water. Massage the duck with salt and rinse again.  If you don't like the gamy smell of duck, mix smashed ginger and white wine then rub all over the duck. Rinse again.  Pat the duck dry inside and out with paper towels to prevent it from slipping when chopping. Place the duck breast-side down on a cutting board. Remove the duck’s wings by twisting them in the sockets to disjoin them then cut the skin and finish removing the wings from the duck with a knife or a kitchen scissors. 

Use the scissors to cut alongside the backbone from the tail end to the neck. Repeat this cut on the other side of the duck’s spine, then remove the spine from the body. 

Turn the duck over so that the breasts are facing up. Spread the legs out on either side of the body.

Use a knife to cut along the intersection of each thigh and the body. Remove the legs from the body.

Locate the bone between the breasts, called the keel bone. Cut from the neck along the keel bone, following the curve of the breast. Use the tip of the knife to cut down the breast in short increments and slowly separate the breast meat from the ribs.

Now, you will have two duck breasts along with the legs. Cut each duck breast into 3 pieces. Cut off any excess fat and save it for later used. 

The organs, neck, spine, ribs, and wings can be used to make a stock for duck porridge or soup.
Marinating the Duck

Preparing ginger - peel and roughly chop the ginger and pound the pieces in a mortar and pestle until you have a paste.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine ginger, lemongrass, white and red fermented bean curd and sauce, sesame oil, and sugar.  Smash the bean curd by pressing with the back of the spoon then mix well. You can also process these ingredients in the food processor if preferred.  

Coat the duck pieces with the marinate sauce and marinate for at least an hour or overnight.

Cooking Duck

Grill and rotate the duck over charcoal or gas grill on medium heat until cooked. Duck breast is usually served medium rare. The texture is so much better when it retains some of its color.  It gets tough and unappealing when cooked more but be done to your liking. The duck legs and thighs can tolerate more cooking and are often served more well done.

Another way to cook the duck is by baking it. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F. Bring a pan on a medium-high heat. Add a little bit of duck fat in a pan. Place the duck in the pan with skin side down and fry until it's golden brown. Flip, and transfer duck to a broiler pan rack. Be sure to cover the bottom pan with foil then place the pan rack on top to catch the drips. When the oven heat reaches 400 degrees, place the duck in the oven and cook for about 8 minutes. 

I forgot to sear the duck skin before cooking in the oven
Roasting Vegetables

If you plan to serve duck with vegetables, try the roasted vegetables. It's one of my favorite way to eat and make vegetables. It's simple and brings out the natural sweetness and subtle flavors infused in the heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil.

In another baking pan, toss vegetables such as brussel sprouts, asparagus, king oyster mushroom, eggplant or the combination of cubed butternut squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, Yukon Gold potato, and red onion with a generous amount of extra vigrin olive oil, and some kosher salt. Place the vegetable tray in the oven the same time with the duck. 

Stirring every 10 minutes. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked throughly and browned.
Cooking Spinach Sticky Rice

I love to incorporate fresh vegetable juice such as carrot juice, spinach juice, pandan juice, beet juice, etc...into my rice for two reasons: one,  for whatever antioxidants I can get and two, for the visual appeal.

Ingredients: 2 cups sweet rice, 2 cups spinach, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions: in a blender, puree spinach and water until smooth. Use a strainer to strain the juice and make 1 3/4 cups.  Add water if it's not enough. Set aside.

Rinse sweet rice a few times until the water is clear. Drain the water completely. Transfer sweet rice and spinach juice to a rice cooker and cook until it switches to warm mode. Stir the rice up and let it sit at the warm mode until the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Serve duck with spinach sticky rice with a side of roasted vegetables along with a glass of Pinot Noir.

This duck dish also pairs well with a side dish of fresh cubed mango, corn, cilantro, jicama tossed with lime juice, and a dash of fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt.

Bon Appetite! 


  1. Hello, will chicken work for this recipe? Also, thank you for all your recipes. I use your recipes often when I miss my mom's cooking while at school.