I love beancurd sticks but there is no set standard with manufacturers, some beancurd sticks will soften very quickly after boiling or braising for a short while, other will remain chewy and rubbery even after cooking for a long time. For this recipe I preferred to fry the beancurd sticks first before braising, one is to avoid the chewy texture if it does not soften fairy quickly other main reason is deep frying the beancurd sticks give them a very nice nutty flavour, the texture is very nice too, a bit chewy but not unpleasant.
Here is the difference between deep/shallow fried and plain beancurd sticks.
Here is the recipe. This will feed 4 -5 with other dishes.
1 whole duck or large duck crown or few duck legs (about 1.3 - 1.5kg)
1 x 200g pack of dried bean curd sticks 腐竹
60 -70g Shitake or Chinese black mushrooms
1.5 - 2 tbsp red fermented beancurd (南乳 nam yue) - about 3 small squares or 1.25 large square depending on brand
1.5 tbsp of the red pickling juice from the red fermented beancurd
2 tbsp of chopped garlic (about 5 - 6 cloves)
3 shallots (about 1 inch wide)
1 chuck of ginger (about thumb size)
3 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 star anise
2 tsp of sugar
1.5 tbsp of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1/4 cup of Shoashing or Chinese cooking wine
1 - 2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 heap tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp water
- First cut the duck into large chunks (they will shrink a lot so don't cut too small) with a cleaver or meat scissors. Then marinate the duck with dark soy sauce and half of the five spice powder, leave aside for 30 min - 1 hour.
- Soak the mushrooms, clean and cut into thick slices. You can reserve the soaking water for braising.
- Break the beancurd sticks via the u bent. Then cut each stick into half again with scissors (scissors makes a cleaner cut then breaking with hand). Heat the wok with 1 cup of oil till quite hot, put in 2 - 3 pieces of the dried beancurd sticks, the sticks will blister immediately in contact with the hot oil, turning them around and fry till golden brown around 10 - 15 seconds. Take them out to drain. When finished frying the whole batch, soak the lot with boiling water till softened then washed and squeezed lightly several times with warm water to release excess oil. Then cut them into 3 (about 5 cm long)
- Chop the garlic and shallots. Cut ginger into slices.
- Get ready the red fermented bean curd. See all the prepared ingredients below.
- Remove the frying oil. Clean the wok.
- Heat the wok till hot, without any oil. Then lay the duck pieces skin side down and fry them till most of the fat is released and duck pieces turned brown, turn over and fry for another minute or two. Take them all out. Remove most of the duck fat except for around 2 tbsp. Scrape off any burnt sticky bits. (keep the marinate)
- Add in the ginger, garlic, shallots and star anise, stir fry till fragrant. Add in the red fermented bean curd with its juice, mash the beancurd with back of the wooden spoon or any cooking utensil. Stir frying for a minute of two, add in remaining five spice powder, the meat marinate, ground pepper, cooking wine, sugar and light soy. Stir then add in 2 cups of water or mushroom soaking water. Let the mixture come to the boil.
- Add in the duck pieces and mushrooms. Stir and let the liquid boil again. Then remove most of the scum floating on top. Heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes then add in fried and soaked beancurd sticks. Continue simmering for about half hour or till the duck pieces are tender.
- Add in enough oyster sauce to taste. Heat up high and add in the slacken cornflour, stirring and reducing the sauce to the consistency you like.
Here is the result. Great with rice and some stir fried vegetables.
**With the same recipe, the duck can sub with pork belly, pork hock, pork trotter or spare ribs. Ask the butcher to cut the pork hock/trotter/spare ribs into smaller pieces for you. Meat with bones same weight around 1.3 - 1.5 kg, meat without bones around 900g - 1 kg. Use a bit of cooking oil to brown the meat if not fatty.