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Basic Red-simmered Duck

1 Duck; 6 to 7 pounds
Water to cover
2 Scallions
2 Or 3 sl Fresh ginger root
6 tb Soy sauce
4 tb Sherry
2 ts Salt
2 ts Sugar


Wipe duck inside and out with a damp cloth. Place breast-side up in a heavy saucepan, tucking wings under body. Add water to cover and bring to a boil.


Meanwhile cut scallions in 3-inch sections and slice ginger root. Then add both, along with soy sauce, sherry and salt. Simmer, covered, 1 hour.


Turn bird over. Add sugar and simmer until done (about 1 hour more).


Cut breast meat against the grain in slices 1/2-inch thick. Arrange on a serving platter, reconstructing the shape of the breast. (Or chop duck, bones and all, in 2-inch sections.) Serve hot, with or without gravy. The gravy may be reserved for later use as a master sauce (see recipe). Or serve cold.


NOTE: The duck is done when the meat is so tender it nearly falls from the bones.


VARIATIONS:


In step 1, use 1/3 stock, 2/3 water.


In step 2, add 5 dried black mushrooms (soaked) and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.


Use 12 to 15 whole scallions (trim root ends, but keep stalks and green leaves intact). Toss scallions in a mixture of 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sugar, then place in duck cavity with the ginger root. Bring to a boil as in step 1, then cook with seasonings as in steps 2 and 3. Serve bird whole with gravy.


For a smaller duck (3 to 4 pounds) use only 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sherry and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cook 1-1/2 hours, basting and turning for even coloring.


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