Salted Vegetable Duck Soup (咸菜鸭)– A Quick and Easy Way to Prepare This Traditional Soup Dish

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INTRODUCTION

This is a soup dish that I have always craved for it。 It is rather extraordinary as not many Fujian Chinese soup dish are as sour as this dish。 However, it is a well liked dish that most Chinese households would have their own recipe for this soup and every household will claim that theirs is the best. Though it is commonly thought of a Hokkien/Teochew/Peranakan (dialects) cuisines. however, to be more precise, it  is a Fujian province soup and even in People’s Republic of China, they have recipe for this soup.

When I was young, the soup were only prepared when they were big festivals or religious prayers. The main reasons were that ducks were relatively expensive and will only be served at big festivals. In addition, during religious festivals, lots of food were cooked and it is unlikely to finish all the foods in one day, this soup which is sour was less prone of turning bad if keep for a day or two as most households do not have refrigerators in the 1960’s. Thirdly, duck is very difficult to cook, traditional way will need braising of duck until the meat are soft and tender and the flavour of the salted vegetable starts to penetrate into the duck meat. Therefore, it is cooked only occasionally.

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Traditionally, the duck meat were braised for hours before it can be served. It is also a common belief that the soup be left overnight to become even tastier. However, with the introduction of new cooking equipment, the cooking time have cut short considerably. I have used one hour to cook this dish and get the same taste that my mum would have prepared for at least half a day. For this illustration, I have used pressure cooker that cut short the time considerably. However, previously, I have also use rice cooker (soup function) to cook the soup and slow cooker to boil overnight. However, the best equipment is still the usage of pressure cooker followed by rice cooker and finally slow cooker.

The most basic ingredients of this soup are ducks, salted vegetables, Chinese preserved sour plums and gingers. Ginger is a must because it will counter effect the cooling effect brought by the consumption of salted vegetables.  Chinese generally discouraged consumption of preserved vegetables as it will introduce “wind” to the body. All other ingredients are side ingredients which in my humble opinion are optional.

To make it even more sour, cooks are using tomatoes (which appeared to be an essential ingredient now), asam kulit (tamarind slices), vinegar, lemon and marinated lemon. Other more common ingredients are dried mushrooms, garlics and red carrots. There are also recipes in the internet that have  chilli, brandy as their ingredients!!!!!

For me, a good bowl of soup should be sweet (from the meat broth) and sour (not extremely sour) with a blend aroma of ginger and salted vegetables. Meat must be tender and soft.



WHAT IS REQUIRED ….

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  • 500 g of salty preserved Chinese Mustard
  • 1 kg of duck meat  (about half a whole duck  and de-skinned if preferred).

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  • 50 g of red carrots cut in small pieces
  • 10 small dried mushrooms soaked in water
  • 3 big whole garlics
  • 100 g of gingers (peel off the skin)
  • 100 g of tomatoes cut into big pieces
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 3 sour plums that can easily get from Chinese provision shops.
  • 6-8 cups of water (estimation)

Note:

Only the salted vegetables, duck, gingers and sour plum are the main ingredients. All other ingredients are side ingredients which are optional and a matter of personal preferences. Volume listed here are also for reference only as it is rather hard for you to get an exact 1 kg duck.. so full flexibility here.

It is advisable that you soak the preserved vegetable first before you cook the soup. I would rather soaked the salted vegetable for a longer time to reduce the saltiness and if the final soup is not salty enough, I will add salt to the dish. I usually soak the vegetable for at least half an hour.



STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Layer your ingredients (except tomatoes)  between salted vegetables and meat and other ingredients . Why it is not a must but I have the habits of layering the ingredients to ensure the meat were well seasoned by the ingredients)
  • Add 6-8 cups of water or about 1.5 times the height of your ingredients. Note: if you are using pressure cooker, you can use this amount of water. However, if you are using rice cooker or stove to boil the soup, you may need at least 10 cups of water until the meat get tender and soft. It is ok to start with this volume of water and if the volume of water is not enough, you can add water along the way.
  • For pressure cooker, select “meat function” and it will took approximately 25-30 minutes. After cooking, let it rest in the pot for at least 15-30 minutes as it will continue to cook. BE CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING PRESSURE COOKER.  For rice cooker, select “soup function” and if after the first cooking, the meat is still or tender, you can select another round of soup function and stop when the meat have your required tenderness.  I usually cooked this before I went to bed and the next day, every thing is perfect.
  • When done, add in the fresh tomato and close the lid and rest for another 10 minutes before serving.

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  • Preferably served hot with rice .

 


CONCLUSION

  • This is a rather short post on one of the traditional Chinese soup dishes – Salted Vegetable Duck Soup. The reasons for the exact combinations of these two main ingredients are unknown. Possibly duck needs time to braise and salted vegetable can withstand long hour of braising. Ginger is a must, in my humble opinion to get rid of the meat raw smell and also have to role of preventing gas formation when consuming preserved vegetables. Sour plum is the traditional ingredient to make this soup sour though the present method have resort to the use of tomatoes, lemons, tamarind slices and etc. All other ingredients are optional and quantity can varies according to your own preferences.
  • Traditionally, the soup was cooked over charcoal stoves where you need at least 2 to 3 hours or longer to get the desire meat texture and soup flavour. However, with the pressure cooker as in this illustration, the cooking time have cut down considerably and it is easier to control the quality of the soup. Rice cooker soup function is another alternatives than can be considered.
  • While the soup is tasty and nice, excess consumption is not  recommended as this soup is consider as cooling according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, those with stomach acidity will also need to watch out the volume of consumption.

Hope you like it. It is not as difficult as what it is thought. It is a bowl of soup that I could never resists and you should be proud to modify the recipe to suit your families taste buds. Happy trying. Cheers.

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Hey, This is not Italian Meat Rolls, It Is Chinese Meat Rolls Called Ngoh Hiang

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INTRODUCTION

This post is sharing the Chinese version of meat rolls or Ngoh Hiang. It is different from the meat roll in Western cuisines such as the Italian meat rolls. Usually, minced meat (usually pork) and prawns were used and wrapped in a dry bean curd sheet.

Meat roll is an extremely popular dish for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese households. The number of recipes available are the same with the numbers of Chinese grandmothers meaning every household have their unique recipe and all claims that theirs is the best. Depending on the dialect groups, meat rolls can be also be called ngoh hiang (five spices or 五香) or lok bak (卤肉)or hay g’ng (虾卷)

This recipe of mine, again is based on my recollection of what my late mother have prepared and the various meat rolls that I have tasted throughout the years.  I have purposely prepared this  meat roll for the noodle dish Lor Mee, a common Hokkien dish in Penang.

Usually, we prepared more meat rolls than required and stored in the refrigerators. When we wanted to serve the meat rolls, we will re-heat it.  Chinese meat rolls traditionally are commonly prepared for religious ceremonies or important house gatherings. The process  of preparation can be slightly laborious and usually ladies in the house were called to help with the preparation.

 


MEAT ROLLS OR NGOH HIANG DEFINED

As per Wikipedia: 

Ngo hiang (Chinese: 五香; pinyin: wǔxiāng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong), also known as heh gerng (Chinese: 虾卷; pinyin: xiājuàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-kǹg) or lor bak (Chinese: 五香滷肉; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong-ló͘-bah) is a unique Hokkien and Teochew dish served in many of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore’s hawker centres and in Cebú in the Philippines, in addition to its place of origin in eastern China. In parts of Malaysia the dish is known as loh bak or lor bak.

It is essentially a composition of various meats and vegetables and other ingredients, such as a sausage-esque roll consisting of minced pork and prawn (or fish) seasoned with five-spice powder (Hokkien: 五香粉, ngó͘-hiong-hún) after which it is named, rolled inside a beancurd skin and deep-fried, lup cheong, cucumber, century egg, ginger, deep-fried egg, deep-fried beancurd, fishball and many others. It is usually served with chili sauce and a house-special sweet sauce. Many stalls in Singaporean food courts and hawker centres sell fried bee hoon with ngo hiang; this combination is common for breakfast and lunch. In Indonesia, people enjoy ngo hiang with sambal sauce. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngo_hiang)

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 kg of minced meat – In this illustration, I have used minced pork. However, minced chicken breast can also be used.
  • 250 g of prawns cut into small chunks – you can also mince the prawns. I have opted to use chunked prawns instead of minced prawns as  I would like to have some prawns being seen in my meat rolls.
  • 200 g of fish paste (optional). I have used this to enhance the seafood fragrance and improve the binding properties of all materials inside the meat rolls.
  • 4-5 spring onions chopped into small pieces
  • 1 big onion chopped into small pieces
  • 10 water chestnuts peeled and cut into small pieces. The purpose of water chestnuts is to let the meat rolls have some feel of crunchiness when eaten.

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  • half cup of corn flour – purpose is to enhance the springiness of the meat roll;
  • 1 cup of wheat flour – purpose is to enhance the stickiness of the ingredients. Without wheat flour, the meat rolls can be rather loose.
  • 1 egg – purpose to increase the stickiness and fragrance of the meat rolls.
  • 1 tablespoon of salt 
  • 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of five spices powder (optional). Though the name is called Ngoh Hiang (five spices), my family seldom put these spices as our family members do not really like the aroma. However, most of the meat rolls that I have tasted do put these spices.
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oils
  • 5 teaspoons of white pepper
  • 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 12 sheets of bean curd sheets of 6 inches x 6 inches big

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Mixing the ingredients…….

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place all ingredients together. Use a big spoon to stir until all ingredients are well mixed. As some of the ingredients can be very fine (such as five spice powders, white peppers and etc.), you can also add the ingredients in stages if you find that it is difficult to mix well by putting all the ingredients all at once.
  • The final picture is the well mixed minced meats and it is considered as well mixed when the colour is even and consistent. The minced meat can be rather sticky due to the addition of egg and wheat flour.

 


Rolling the minced meats…

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  • In a flat surface, place a dried bean curd sheet. Use a wet hand to lightly pat the bean curd sheets. The purpose is to make it more flexible as too dry the bean curd sheets can be easily broken.
  • Placed about 150 grams of minced meats on top of the dry bean curd sheets.
  • Make a small roll, fold in the sides, used some of the minced meats or water to apply to the sides and corners of the bean curd sheets. Roll the minced meat until the end of the bean curd sheets. With the minced meat or water at the sides, it will help to  bind the bean curd sheets together.
  • If you runs out of bean curd sheets, you can shape the remaining into a ball and deep frying it. Please refer to the section below “When you runs of bean curd sheets”.

 


Steaming the meat rolls….


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  • In a steamer, place some water and bring to boil.
  • Transfer the meat rolls to the steamer and steamed for 15 minutes. Use a skewer/toothpick to penetrate one of the rolls and ensure that the skewer/toothpick  comes out clean.

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Deep frying the meat rolls……..

This step will involve frying the meat rolls. However, if you do not want the meat roll to be deep fried, you can also served it after steaming by cutting into small slices. Traditional ways of preparation will require the meat rolls to be deep fried such that the bean curd sheets will become crispy and golden brown.

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  • In a deep pot, have some oil until smoking hot. As a test of whether the oil is adequately hot for frying, place a wooden chopstick into the hot oil. If bubbles start to come out, it means that oil is ready for frying.
  • Place the meat rolls into the hot oil and deep fried until golden brown. Note that as the whole roll is already cooked, therefore the purpose of this step is just to ensure that bean curd sheets are crispy and the color is golden brown, therefore, the timing of the deep frying is rather fast usually less than  5 minutes.
  • Take out the meat rolls and place it in a plate with an oil absorbing paper on the plate.
  • Cut into small pieces when serving. Condiments can include sweet chilli sauce or plum sauce.

 


 

 

 

 

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What would happens if you runs out of bean curd sheets….

It is rather difficult to estimate the exact quantity of bean curd sheets that you need. At times, you may run of bean curd sheets as not all rolls are of the same sizes. In that case, you can shape the minced meats into small balls and roll it in the biscuit crumbs before deep frying (steps as above).

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  • Have some biscuits and grind it as fine as possible. Add some corn flour to the biscuit crumbs.
  • Shaped the minced meats into small balls and roll the balls in the biscuit crumbs.
  • Placed in the hot oil until the skin of the balls turns golden brown. Take out and place in an oil absorbing paper.

 


CONCLUSIONS

Meat rolls are a common household dish among Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese.  There are many recipes and each family will claim their is the best. Making meat rolls can be laborious but the moment you put it in your mouth, the taste is worth every efforts preparing it. Meat rolls are usually prepared for religious ceremonies and is served in restaurants as one of the cold dish. It is also used for noodle dishes such as lor mee. A detail post on the preparation of lor mee will be released soon. Preparation of lor mee will require  the use of these meat rolls  and meat balls as the ingredients.

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Hope you LIKE the post to day. Have a nice day and cheers.

 

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