Monday, August 22, 2011

Puppy Duck 狗仔鸭 - Heritage Week # 1

Puppy Duck isn’t cooked with dog meat. Relieved?
It’s duck cooked like how one will cook dog meat.
Why cook duck like one would cook dog? Frankly, they do taste similar
So that when one craves for dog meat, just cook duck to ease the craving.
You may want to ask, “Wendy, how do you know they taste similar?”
Don’t ask. You don’t want to know.

My paternal lineage are Panyu Cantonese 广府番禺. FYI, being Cantonese, there are sub dialects (is this how it's called?), like Sei Wooi, Sun Ning, Sei Yap (I was told by 2 Sei Yap freinds that Hong Kong comedian Mak Ka talks with Sei Yap accent, with the famous , “see doi bau” 死仔包), Toong Koon and lots more that I do not know of. I only know one Panyu word, which is “Sak”, which means eat. Eat in Cantonese is “Sik 吃”. It’s sad that I only know Cantonese but not the Panyu accent. My grandparents never taught my father. Only my uncle (ah Bak) knows it.

As my last paternal grandparent passed away when I was 1, Grandaunt was the only ‘grand’ that I have. She stayed with us ever since her daughter got married and taking care of the household on behalf of my working grandma. Everybody was very close to her. She was the one who cared for me when I was a baby when my mom is away at work. She was already 75 that time. Grandaunt always tells me stories about her life in Panyu. About how she learnt smoking (yes no joke), how she went to the rice fields to catch worms 禾虫 for dinner with a simple oil lamp (If I could get hold of these worms, I will recreate what grandaunt told me. She melted the worms with salt and steamed them. They turn custard like and taste much better than steamed eggs. This is the only true Panyu fare that I got direct teaching from Grandaunt) and how her father will catch shrimp and make them into dried shrimp and “sek doh dui kin 吃到对见(no idea how the last word is written, but it sounds like this in Cantonese. The phrase means, eat until the next year’s season, eg:this year’s spring to next year’s spring)

My mom would always tell me how grandaunt will cook puppy duck and it was so so delicious. What’s that? I have no idea. Grandaunt never cooked that when I came to my senses. She had resorted to simple dishes when I was around. I have never tasted a lot of her dishes, especially those that are real traditional fare. I have heard stories about her 6 inch “jeen dooi”, her braised stuffed whole chicken and a lot more of others that I have never eaten nor seen. Her cooking is true Cantonese fare.

Puppy duck or 狗仔鸭 is a traditional Cantonese dish that is almost forgotten. It took me years to finally get a recipe. There were other versions on the net, some coming from Foshan, some from other districts in Guangzhou. But they all don’t sound like what I was told it should be like. I finally found it in Panyu district government website. This one sounds like what my mom described and the recipe should be an authentic Panyu version since it came from a restaurant in Panyu.

And my mom came to stay with me for a week, right after Edith announced her Heritage Trail event. Perfect! I could try recreating this almost extinct dish of my family and with my mom to test, she could tell me how close I am to the original version of grandaunt’s.

Items shown in real amount used. Just in case you don't have a scale you can visually estimate

My duck was 2.1kg when I bought it. That was the dressed weight. When I trimmed off everything that I don’t want, like the neck, head, butt, webbed feet, and super fatty bits, I was left with 1.25kg. more than 1/3 gone!

Puppy Duck
Source: Panyu City Diary 番禺市志

The source's recipe
500gm Duck
10 gm cornstarch
100gm leeks
25gm ginger
5gm bean paste
5gm Nam yue
3gm light soy sauce
2gm Sugar
10gm wine
2gm tangerine peel

My adaptation (calculated based on the source's recipe)
1 duck (2.1kg when bought dressed, 1.25kg after trimming)
15ml light soy sauce (almost 1 soup spoon, my own addition)
1 heaped Tbsp cornstarch
250gm leeks (5 stalks of Chinese leeks), cut into slanting pieces, white and green parts separated
65gm ginger, peeled and smashed
13gm red fermented beancurd (Nam Yue)
25gm bean paste (whole beans paste, I doubled the ratio, because I found it to be too little. Maybe restaurants use another grade of bean paste as I saw on TV, some could be really thick and concentrated)
5gm sugar
15ml light soy sauce
25gm Shao Xing wine (about 2 soup spoon)
5gm tangerine peel (bought from Chinese herbalist. I was told by the herbalist to stick to the amount stated, as overdosing can cause the dish to be bitter, so better not estimate)

1. Chop duck into smallish pieces and let the blood juices drip dry. Marinate with 15ml light soy sauce and cornstarch for 1 hour.
2. In a hot wok, put in 2 Tbsp of cooking oil.
3. Put in marinated duck and cook until fragrant, browned and all the meat has turned opaque. Turn off the heat. Push meat to the side, let the oil drip down and dish up.
4. With the same wok, with the remaining oil, fry ginger and white parts of leek until fragrant.
5. Put in fermented beancurd and bean paste and fry until fragrant.
6. Return duck to wok, toss to mix everything around.
7. Let the duck heat up again and put wine in. Cook until wine dries up.
8. Put in water , enough to cover duck. Put in 15ml light soy sauce, sugar and tangerine peel.
9. When water has come to a boil, cover with lid and simmer on medium heat for 1 hour, checking water level every now and then, adding more as needed.
10. Add in green parts of leek and simmer for 5 minutes. If you want the gravy to be thicker, add in some cornstarch mixed with water (I didn’t, as I reduced the gravy a lot and the melted leeks thickened whatever liquid that was left).
11. Dish up and serve. (I find it salty enough, therefore didn’t add in any salt)

Verdict: Was it like Grandaunt’s version? Mom couldn’t remember even though she ate it before, but she said, it tasted good. Anyway, I’m just glad to do a “Panyunese” dish that I only heard of before, but now, I’ve tasted it. 4 adults polished off this duck. Not a bit of leftovers! But will I cook this again? I'm not sure because cleaning the duck was a chore. The dressed duck still had lots of feather stubs everywhere, had to tweeze them out. Took me one hour to tweeze and clean. If you want to know, I bought my frozen dressed duck at RM17/bird at the wet market.

I am submitting this to Edith's Heritage Trail Event.
Do join in the fun.
Anyone from any ethnicity is welcomed


  1. Hi Wendy,nampak menyelerakan hidangan puppy duck tu....lain kali bolehlah saya ikut resepi u ni kan...hehehe...

  2. I'm glad to hear you didn't really cook a dog...but just thinking it tasted similar...I'd have a hard time eating it...but it looks delicious!

  3. Delicious duck meat, so tempting.

  4. I never heard of Puppy Duck before. And this dish really looks very tempting and delicious. I would like to give it a try as I loves to eat duck too. Yes, I agreed with you, cleaning up the duck and plucking off the small feathers really a hard work! Do you think I can substitute this dish with free-range chicken instead?

  5. rahel,
    boleh boleh

    don't think! Just eat, LOL.


    It's the duck that makes this dish dog meat like. You can use chicken, of course, but the taste will be very much different. Maybe the seasonings will be too strong for the chicken.

  6. Indeed very interesting name.  But it sure looks very appetizing... Btw, love your restaurant style big fry wok! I wish I have that kind of space leisure to own one. 

  7. Wendy...this is marvelous...I love the one served in one Pusing restaurant ! and here you are sharing something similar :) Thanks, shall try making this dish when I can get a new duck. The thing is WB only like roasted duck :p but I shall tempt him with this one !

  8. Sorry...should read as * nice* not new LOL!

  9. This is similar to a duck dish that I prepared(seasonings almost the same, except I forgot to add tangerine peel), but I added fried yam. I din know it has such an interesting name! My late dad used to know more about the various Cantonese dialects in Guangfu. But being a quiet man at home, he din passed on the knowledge to us (regrets...)

  10. Bee,
    It's not that big la.
    It's only 40cm wide.
    Smaller than those AMC woks

    Pusing got ah?
    How to go? Wanna go together?

    I believe the tangerine peel is to mask the duck's musky smell.
    I believe Yam duck is another dish

  11. I wouldn't dream of eating dog meat but duck, I don't mind, especially what you have prepared. It looks yummy!

  12. i was wondering what is puppy duck. I can imagine the taste.

  13. Wendy this is a beautiful post. I am lapping up all the information just like a hungry puppy now. Cute name for this dish as well.

    Thanks for the support.

  14. Hi

    You really trigger me to take a visit into my kitchen and cook something like yours :)

    It's so so yummy!!

  15. never heard nor eaten this quack quack before but it sure sounds very tasty with the nam yue and the bean paste..taste like that yam with kow yook? I just cooked a dish this afternoon for the food heritage event, havent drafted yet, hope to post it up by wed.

  16. My mon taught me a similar dish by just using soy bean paste and wine, it already taste wondeful, but look at the ingredients you use, I bet it taste super delicious, must have a lot of rice to go with this dish. The name of this dish is cute...

  17. busygran,
    Just don't imagine this is dog :)

    Small kucing,
    imagining the taste of dog or this dish? LOL

    Yeah, that's the real name for this dish.
    another post coming up on Wednesday

    LOL, if you have duck, why not?

    no, not a bit like kow yook.
    Taste like dog.. LOL.
    Actually the nam yue and bean paste is very subtle, the leek is the prominent item here.

    Bean paste and wine is a very common ingredient in Chinese cooking, but it is this combination that makes it Puppy duck, a traditional Cantonese dish, and this version with leeks is a Panyu version.
    If you imagine this is dog, then I dun think it's that cute anymore, LOL!

  18. Even though I don't like ducks, except for Peking duck, I enjoyed reading your heritage and your memory of your elders. I kept thinking that the green leaves you put on top was pandan leaves and I looked through your recipe so many times, not to find them. Only to realise it's the green of the leeks! Silly me! Love your heritage. :)

  19. 我看到这名字时,真的以为有加入狗肉的.原来是有那样的一段古.看材料和相片,觉得味道很特别.先把食谱收起了.谢啦.

  20. Passionate abt baking,
    LOL, can't be pandan. Canton dun have pandan.

    cherry potato,
    Hope u like this.
    Yeah, the name is truly misleading. LOL.

  21. ah Wan Yee, ngai ao sak!!! ngai mau gam lek, ngai nge sik juu...

  22. Joanne,
    Ur mom taught you to say this, is it?

  23. 我看到就口水流了,因为我喜欢吃用姜煮的菜肴。。。 :P

  24. Wendy, this is truly a delicious Cantonese dish!! yummylicious!

  25. “追食富迪”,
    ginger is good for you :)

    ah Tze,

    Come to think of it, yawoh, that was exactly how popo will say it.
    "Lei jan pan nai la, hock dou popo kong yeh'
    I know, u learn from 6yipoh the last time she came to Msia

  26. Wow cool another post coming.

    To all Wendy's supporters, do join in the fun. A good way to get to know other dialect's cuisine. Not necessay to be main, dessert is ok too.

  27. edith,
    Cantonese dessert.. hmm... don't really know what's an exact Cantonese dessert, but, I know 'jeen dooi' is Cantonese. It's the chewy bloated fried sesame ball with peanuts or red bean as filling. My grand aunt makes it huge, 6 inches big!

  28. ngai lao Ma Zhi always kong 'sak' at home too; i told my mama about this dish, she said:"oh, yea ate b4, O W cook this dish vry well, but i not a fan to duck meat, i just took the gravy to mix rice to eat."

    ngai mau duck sak~~~sak sak sak

  29. Joanne,
    You speak Panyunese much better than I do, much much better. LOL.
    If got chance, I'll cook this dish for everyone again, maybe for CNY, that is if you guys are staying for dinner.

  30. Oh.. this version is with duck! I had another version called "Chu Pang Kau Yau" or Puppy Pig made with pork in a very old traditional restaurant! :)

    Interesting how various versions of this comes up.. yummy!!

  31. In your phrase, "sek doh dui kin 吃到对见," I believe the last character should be nin4 (proper Cantonese) 年 nin4 year

  32. yeutwoh,
    The word "duikin" was in Panyu dialect. I am not sure what the actual word should be, but I wrote the words based on how it sounded from my grandaunt.

  33. I just tried the receipe yesterday. It is wonder to be able to find this long lost receipe. Thank you for sharing.

  34. Caroline Wong,
    It was soooo difficult trying to locate the recipe cos I have never eaten this myself previously.
    Glad u found this of use

  35. Hi Wendy

    I tried it before. I was at least 35 years ago. I can confirm that your receipe is very authentic.

  36. Caroline,
    Thanks for the confirmation and it's all credit to the Panyu county website for the original recipe.


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