I’ve always found Chinese food mysterious and a little scary but lately I’ve been diving in head first. My momentum came from a beautiful four part food documentary called Exploring China, made by the BBC. It’s hosted by two talented chefs, Ken Hom and Ching He Huang who both grew up outside of China but have deep roots there. Exploring China is the story of their return to the country that they were born in and their re-connection with Chinese food and culture. This duck stir fry is one of the first recipes I can claim completely as my own and its inspiration I fully attribute to those two passionate people.
Please don’t be put off by the whole roast duck, it’s a little bit confronting but easy enough to get used to once you taste how good it is. I buy mine from Burlington’s in the Fortitude Valley and they will cut it up for you if requested but I find it easier to strip the meat from the whole carcass. Not a fan of duck? Chicken would work beautifully, as would pork. I think this stir fry would be a great way to use up left overs from a roast and the vegetables can be adjusted depending on what you have on hand. If you use raw meat rather than something pre-cooked, just cook it for slightly longer to account for it.
It’s slightly embarrassing but I don’t actually know the name of the sauces pictured above. We first came across it at the dumpling stall at our local Farmer’s Markets and memorised the picture on the label. I found it in a little Chinese supermarket in Fortitude Valley and now every time I go into an Asian supermarket I come across it. There are quite a few different flavours, some of which include chicken and pork but I stick to the Chilli Black Bean and the pure Chilli. Thankfully the store I go to has the ingredients list in English on the back but if you can’t eat meat just be careful and make sure you don’t end up with a mouthful of pork. The sauces themselves are so delicious, they are salty, sweet and oily and can be used for anything. I find myself putting a little spoonful of the Black Bean sauce in every Asian dish I make and the oil from the sauces gives a great background hum of warmth to salad dressings.
I have an electric stove top that is absolutely useless when it comes to using my wok so we bought a cheap butane camp stove and it is much better, although still not as hot as I would like. I have a three ring gas burner on my birthday wish list and hopefully then I can get the smoky flavour from the wok that so far has eluded me. I’ve had my wok for about a year (I think?) and it is finally seasoned enough to start becoming non-stick. Exciting times!
Cooking the different elements of the dish separately is very important, especially if you aren’t able to get a very strong heat under your wok. I’ve had a lot of issues with my food getting too soupy while I’m cooking and the dish braising in its own liquids, rather than frying. An easy way to around this it to cook your food in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. I used to be impatient with this and always regretted it when my food turned into a wet mess. Cooking the vegetables separately also gives you more control over keeping them crispy, which is super important because Chinese food is all about contrasting textures. The crunchy green beans and onions are highlights in this dish, not just background players to the duck (and that’s saying something, this duck is insanely tasty).
This recipe makes a lot of food, so if you are cooking for two just halve the recipe and you’ll still have some for lunch the next day. Use the other half of the duck to have in salad or with steamed Asian vegetables. So versatile! Or just freeze it for the next time you make this stir fry (I can guarantee there will be a next time, that’s how much I love it). This is a favourite and much requested dish at my house, meaning that when I cook it I’m beating back hands trying to get at the little bits of crispy duck skin (she knows who she is!) and although I might feign annoyance, it always gives me the warm and fuzzies knowing that people can’t resist something I’ve cooked.
Chinese Duck Stir Fry
Recipe by Ainsley Badman, that’s me!
1 Chinese roast duck
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
250 g green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 brown onion, peeled and sliced
1 large handful bean sprouts
4 spring onions, white parts chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp Chilli Black Bean sauce
2 tbsp Chilli sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
Strip the duck of meat and skin then cut into bite sized pieces.
Toss duck in a bowl with cornflour until evenly coated. Set aside.
Place the green beans, onion and garlic in a bowl together.
Gather all ingredients and arrange close by to your wok, putting the sauces in a bowl together if desired.
Heat your wok on high until smoking then add the vegetable oil and the duck.
Cook for 5 mins, constantly moving, until the fat has rendered and the duck skin gets crispy.
Remove duck to a bowl but leave the fat in the wok.
Add the bowl of vegetables to the wok and cook for 2 mins, scraping the bottom of the wok to prevent the garlic from sticking.
Add the duck back into the wok, as well as the bean sprouts and spring onions.
Mix briefly, then add all of the sauces.
Stir to evenly coat everything, taste, and add a little more hoisin if it isn’t sweet enough.
Transfer to a serving dish and eat with Jasmine rice or as part of a Chinese style banquet.