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Braised Eight-Precious Duck

1 duckling - (4 to 5 lba) -- cleaned, trimmed
12 dried black mushrooms

1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Broth Mixture:
1 can chicken broth - (14 1/2 oz) -- plus 1 can water
1/4 cup red bean paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 whole star anise

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves -- pressed
6 thin slices ginger
2 shallots -- cut into wedges
1 leek, white part only -- split lengthwise, and cut into 2" strips
2 green onions -- cut 2" pieces
1 can bamboo shoots - (8 oz) drained -- and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 can whole water chestnuts -- drained
1 pound tarro or thin-skin potatoes -- peeled, and cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the duck and set aside for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Soak the mushrooms in warm water to cover for 30 minutes; drain. Cut off and discard the stems; thinly slice the caps. Set aside.

Combine the broth mixture ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Remove the duck from the marinade and pat it dry. Place a wok or wide frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Brown the duck well on all sides, transfer it to a plate, and set it aside.

Place a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic, ginger, and shallots; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in the leek, green onions, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and broth mixture. Add the duck, breast-side down. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 1/4 hours, turning the duck over halfway through the cooking period. Add the taro or potato and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until the duck is tender.

Remove the duck and vegetables to a serving platter. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water. Add the cornstarch solution to the liquid in the pot; cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens. Serve half the sauce over the duck, and the rest over rice or noodles.

This recipe yields 6 to 8 servings.

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