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10/11/2019 - 08:59

Hue-style duck noodle

Duck meat must be cleaned, then washed with rock salt, crushed ginger and white wine.

A fine bowl of duck noodle has sweet and rich meat taste with no pungent odor of duck meat.

Cooking duck noodles is quite complicated. Because duck meat is naturally smelly, a fine bowl of duck noodle must retain the meat’s sweet and rich flavor and get rid of its duck odor.

Processing duck meat is an important step. A pot of duck noodle basically has the same main ingredients as spicy beef noodles, including broth from simmered beef bones, lemongrass, MSG, sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, rock salt, and annatto oil as food coloring.

Duck meat must be cleaned, then washed with rock salt, crushed ginger and white wine. Rub the meat thoroughly with white wine and ginger to eliminate the duck odor. Duck broth when boiling needs some bruised lemongrass stalks and crushed ginger with a pinch of salt and MSG.

It is important to boil the duck so as not to dry the meat out. This can be done by boiling until the meat is medium cooked then let sit for about 20 minutes in the broth pot. Do not take the meat out immediately after boiling as this dries out the duck meat and makes it less juicy when serving.

After simmering beef bones for broth, add smashed lemongrass and crushed shallot to the pot. Dissolve some shrimp paste in water and let sit to settle the dregs, then discard the dregs at the bottom and extract the clear shrimp paste liquid. Add a lump of rock sugar to sweeten the broth besides an extra duck blood cake sliced into bite-size pieces. Crab cake can also be used to create more flavor to the dish. Wait until the broth boils and gives off lemongrass aroma, then add crab cake balls. Bring the mixture to a boil again.

Before finishing, it is necessary to prepare a mortar of pounded black peppercorn and shallot, then add some fish sauce and MSG, stir well. Add the mixture into the pot as soon as the stove is turned off. Use annatto oil as food coloring for the dish and adjust the broth’s flavor to your taste.

Unrefined rock salt is often used to season the broth instead of iodized salt, because rock salt does not make the soup acrid. Besides the broth, duck noodles recipe comes with must-have fresh vegetables, noodles, and ginger fish sauce on the side for dipping duck meat. A platter of fresh vegetable includes lettuce, mint, cilantro, shredded banana flower, bean sprouts... 

A delicious duck noodle dish requires the broth to be flavorful and sweet with soft and sweet duck meat. Duck meat has cooling characteristics, so when serving, it often comes with a bowl of ginger fish sauce to balance the body’s yin and yang. It is also a way to add more flavor to the dish and make it an all-season cuisine.

Story and photo: NAM GIAO

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