Braised Duck with Chestnuts
125 g/4 oz dried chestnuts
1 roasting duckling, about 2 kg/4 lb
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rose wine or sherry
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons red bean curd
2 teaspoons sugar
Pour boiling water over dried chestnuts and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, replace with more boiling water and soak for a further 30 minutes or until ready to add to dish, when they should be drained again. Rinse duck well and blot dry. Cut off and discard tail. Combine garlic, ginger, soy and wine, rub all over duck inside and out and leave aside while chestnuts are soaking.
Heat oil in a wok and brown the duck all over, turning to ensure even browning. Transfer duck to a dish. Pour off oil in wok, leaving only about a tablespoon. Return duck to wok. Add bean curd mashed with the sugar and pour in enough boiling water to reach half way up the duck. Add the chestnuts, making sure they are immersed in the liquid. Cover and simmer until duck is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn duck once or twice during cooking, adding a little more boiling water if necessary. Lift duck onto a wooden board and cut Chinese style, first in half lengthways, then turning cut side down and chopping through the bones with a sharp cleaver.
Arrange pieces on serving plate and spoon the sauce and chestnuts over them. Garnish with spring onion (scallion) flowers (short lengths stripped with a long pin and dropped into iced water so they curl). If liked, slices of sweet potato may be added during the last 15 minutes of cooking. This also helps to absorb some of the richness.
Serve with steamed rice.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)