Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#readcookeat recipe : Singaporean Teochew Duck Rice (Life Of A Banana)

Last week, I reviewed PP Wong's quirkily-named The Life of a Banana (click through for my review), which focuses on the trials and tribulations of newly-orphaned, twelve-year-old  Xing Li, a BBC or British Born Chinese person, constantly caught between two cultures and never feeling like she fits in anywhere. She is what some Chinese people call a banana - yellow on the outside and white on the inside.

I love reading, and I love cooking, and I have a particular passion for globe-cooking, trying out weird and (hopefully) wonderful recipes from all over the world, so I was excitedly bookmarking foodie mentions left, right and centre. At one point, the family take a trip to Singapore and this line caught my eye :

p111 Through a massive ball of smoke, I see little hawker stalls selling delicious yummy food. Satay, beef ball noodles, chicken rice, prawn laksa and duck rice. My mouth waters and Uncle Ho pushes past people.

I knew that I had some duck breast in the freezer, so I decided to investigate duck rice. If you google it, you will see dozens of photos of the dish bought at various hawker stalls in Singapore, but no actual recipe called duck rice. I browsed through many variations, including some with photos that made me feel quite queasy because they use a whole duck complete with head, and discovered that the most common option was Teochew Braised Duck. The recipes are all very different, but I used this one from Genius Kitchen as my main inspiration, and tweaked it to suit what was in my spice rack and cupboard. 

It was a great way of using up some of those spices that I'm not overly keen on (Chinese five spice, because I don't like the taste of aniseed) or that I never know what to do with (galagal powder, anyone?). It is a rich, fragrant but quick and simple dish that can be put together in minutes (unlike the traditional version with a whole duck that needs to braise for hours).

Singaporean Teochew Duck Rice

ingredients :

1 duck breast
salt, pepper
1tsp galagal powder
2tsp Chinese five spice
a glug of kecap manis (thick sweet soy sauce - you could use regular dark soy sauce and sugar)
a drizzle of sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
chilli sauce (optional)
white rice to serve

Score the fatty side of the duck breast. Grind salt and black pepper over the top.

Fry it fat side down for a few minutes until the fat starts to melt, then flip it over and cook the underside. You won't need to add any oil to the pan. While the underside is cooking, pour over the remaining ingredients, making sure the spices and soy sauce cover the whole duck breast and ooze down into the slits. Turn it back over so that the fatty side is face-down and cook for 5 minutes or so.

When the duck is medium rare (or very rare, depending on your preferences), take it out of the pan and slice it up. Return it to the pan, adding extra spices and soy sauce if you need more, but traditionally, it's quite a dry dish. I also added some sliced mushrooms, as there were some in the fridge that needed using up. Toss in the sauce until the meat is nicely covered and cooked to your liking.

Serve over white rice.

Adding to the #readcookeat linky over at Chez Maximka.

Not only did I use up a lone duck breast that was lurking in the freezer, I also used up some of the less popular spices from my spice rack, so this is also going on the #KitchenClearout linky.


  1. I love duck!! I can't wait to get to some oriental countries so I can cook something like this! x

  2. Oooh I like the sound of this, I love garlic and soy sauce in meals, in fact I craved garlic mayo all through my pregnancy on my 5 year old daughter, and she now loves garlic too, whether it's garlic sauce, bread or in meals xxx

  3. That looks SO tasty! How strange that they use the whole duck!!

    1. I have to admit, it would put me off eating it !

  4. I don't think I've heard of the duck rice, but it sounds very tasty. I love chicken-fried rice, where you could also add all sorts of things. I don't think I have galangal in my spice rack, so can't help at all with ideas.

    1. You're not missing much - galangal is a bit of a strange fragrance, not one of my favourites !

  5. This looks wonderful! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Yum I am never sure of recipes for duck so will give this a try!


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