Saturday, 8 June 2013

Recipe - Duck With Salted Mustard Leaves Soup (Kiam Chye Ark)

The duck soup with pickled (or salted) mustard leaves or kiam chye used to be common fare in Singapore. Thirty years ago, it was quite easy to tuck into this hearty bowl of kiam chye ark soup at many eating places. Today, this duck soup with pickled mustard leaves is considered a gourmet dish.

Surprisingly, this kiam chye ark soup is much easier to cook than the braised duck (or lor ark).  The essential ingredients are the duck and the kiam chye. Other ingredients are added for flavour and for goodness.

As the soup is meant to be consumed, it should be tasty and healthy: a hint of salt, sour and sweet. As for the duck which is a lot tougher than chicken, the meat should fall off the bones. So it requires a longer cooking time.

Another key thing to remember is that the duck has strong smell. To get rid of the smell, I boil the duck for 5 minutes in boiling water added with 2 tablespoons of rice wine. Ginger or vinegar can also be used to get rid of the smell.

This recipe is a combination of 3 other video recipes which are embedded below. I added wolf berries for their sweetness and wolf berries are also good for eye health. Dried lily bulbs are added for fibre and they are known to stop coughing.

Half a duck (about 1.1 kg)
250 grams salted mustard leaves, cut into bite size
kiam chye
2 tomatoes, cut into large slices
1 thumb ginger, julienne
2 pcs of sour plum
A handful of dried lily bulbs, soak in water for 5 minutes (optional)
1 tbs of wolf berries (optional)
2 tbs rice wine for blanching duck
2 tbs rice wine for finishing
2 tbs of sesame oil
1 tbs of whole white peppercorn
(Note: 1 part mustard leaves by weight to 4 parts duck is about right)

I bought the half a duck from the supermarket and it came already cut up into 8 large pieces.
I just had to take out the skin and cut off any obvious fat.

Step 1
In a pot of boiling water, toss in the duck.
Add 2 tbs of rice wine and let the duck boil for 5 minutes.
This should get rid of any excess fat and also get rid of the duck smell.
Set aside the duck.

Step 2
The pot must be large enough to hold the duck and other ingredients, at least 3 litres.
Heat the pot on medium high.
Add 2 tbs of sesame oil.
Toss in the salted mustard leaves and julienne ginger.
Stir fry for 1 minute or so, for fragrance.

Add the duck
Add enough water to cover the duck
Toss in the dried lily bulbs, 1 tomato, wolf berries and 2 sour plums and white pepper.

Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 1 hour.
Do check at intervals of 15 minutes and top up water if necessary.

Finally, when all is done
Toss in the last 1 tomato (for decoration and freshness)
Add 2 tbs of rice wine (for flavour)

Now the kiam chye ark is ready to serve.
Everybody can cook their own kiam chye ark !

Get some tips from these 3 videos on how to cook kiam chye ark.

This video is from Taiwan. The language is a mix of hokkien and mandarin.
The first 6 minutes is for the kiam chye ark.
The duck is blanched in hot water and set aside.
The salted vegetable is fried with sesame oil for fragrance.
Julienne ginger and white pepper are added, also for fragrance.
Rice wine and dried lily bulbs are added.
The dish is simmered for 30 minutes.

In this 2 minute video, the kiam chye ark is a Peranakan version.
It is called Itek Tim in Peranakan language.
She added pork belly for sweetness and dried tamarind for the sour taste.
She added 2 cloves garlic and simmer the dish for 85 minutes.

This is a mandarin version (13 minutes) of kiam chye ark. It is in mandarin. She explains the rationale for using each of the ingredients.

One whole duck is boiled without skin to get rid of the smell and fat.
Her ingredients:
1 whole duck without skin (2.2 kg)
500 grams salted mustard leaves
2 to 3 tomatoes
3 sour plums
2 nutmeg
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon wolf berries
2 tablespoon rice wine

She blanched the duck to get rid of the smell.

Next she put everything into a pot and cooked for 1 hour

Nice !

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