Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kiam Chye Duck Soup

Pickled Mustard, or Kiam Chye, as it is known in Hokkien and Teochew, has a strange smell.

It smells of those old provision shop.. (or those old provision shop smell of kiam chye).

And it also looks weird - it is dirty green and "expired" looking. 

So, I've never really been a fan of kiam chye and have never used it in my cooking. Until recently, when The Mother-in-law came over to stay for a month. She cooked this wonderful pork ribs with bitter gourd and kiam chye. And even though I really dislike bitter gourd, I found the soup quite fantastic.

And so I figured, if kiam chye can make bitter gourd soup taste good... with other ingredients... it must be fantastic.

And so, I've been wanting to make this Kiam Chye Duck Soup since I read about it from Ting's blog. Many people have been telling me how great this soup is.. how they and their children loll their tongues out at the thought of having this soup for dinner.

I pretty much followed what Ting suggested.. and the soup turned out just great.

  • Half a duck (cut off some of the skin and fats)
  • Kiam chye (about a quarter), cleaned and soaked in brine briefly
  • 1 to 2 pickled sour plums 
  • 2 small garlic, peeled but kept whole
  • 2 small pieces of ginger
  • Half an onion, quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
What I did
  1. Roast the duck in the oven at 200 - 220 deg C for about 20 minutes. A lot of the fat melted off
  2. Put the duck meat into a pot of boiling water and add the kiam chye, sour plums, garlic, ginger and onions
  3. Let the soup simmer for about 1 hour and then turn off the fire but keep the soup covered. For some reason, I heard that doing this helps to make the meat softer.
  4. Remove the layer of oil on top and then boil again for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  5. Season with Chinese wine, white pepper and a tiny piece of rock sugar.
  1. I thought Ting's suggestion to put the duck into the oven to melt off the fat was ingenious. I would leave it in the oven for at least 30 minutes next time to give the skin a nice golden colour.
  2. I think it's safer to go easy on the sour plum and kiam chye. Before Step 4, taste the soup and if it is not sour or salty enough, add more for the final 1 to 1.5 hours of boiling.
  3. The lady who sold me the kiam chye also told me not to cut the kiam chye up too much. Just soak it briefly in some salted water, then cut a large piece of kiam chye into the soup.
The Kiam Chye Duck Soup, after the first hour of boiling..

This is really a very Teochew soup - sourish and strong in flavour.. The duck meat was literally falling off the bones. I like it... only next time, I'd try to buy 2 duck drumsticks.. half a duck is a bit too much for the 2 of us.

Left: The Kiam Chye duck soup with purple sweet potato rice
Right: The duck soup when it is finally all done. I was in a hurry to have the soup.. 
so couldn't really be bothered to take a good picture..

    Oct 2011: I have a better picture of this soup here.


    petunialee said...

    Tongue lolling!

    Blur Ting said...

    wooo, I think you did a great job! It's hard to get a really good picture of duck soup. I realise it's not very photogenic but as long as it tastes great, it's fine.

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