Eight Treasure Duck Recipe
A special dish for festive occasions, 8 Treasure Duck is a delicacy you can make at home. The “8” precious ingredients, or treasures, are stuffed into a duck and braised. Fillings, marinades, and preparation methods may vary by region, so feel free to put your own spin on it.
This is our Lau family recipe, containing some traditional ingredients, and herbs (of course!), which we incorporate into many soups and dishes at home, and what we like to call “umami-treasures.” This recipe takes a lot of time (and ingredients), but results in a delicious holiday meal centerpiece!
According to some TCM sources, Duck is neutral, sweet and salty, entering the Lung, Spleen and Kidney meridians, and tonifies the Qi and Yin. The chestnuts and taro warm the Spleen and Stomach. Adding Bai lian zi, which enters the Heart, Kidney and Spleen meridians, along with Bai He, which tonifies the Lung and Stomach Yin, make this recipe good for dry, colder months. The three Qi tonics, Shitake, Shan yao, and Hong Zao are sweet, neutral and harmonizing for the Middle Jiao, while also serving to tonify the Qi and Blood.
In this recipe, we use the fresh food-grade Shan yao, which is now widely available in Bay Area Chinese grocery stores. There are at least 6 varieties of Shan yao, and the fresh version is usually “Shui Shan Yao” or “Water Shan Yao”. This variety is crisp in texture when raw, not unlike Jicama, and more gelatinous in nature when cooked than the TCM medicinal variety of Shan yao listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and used in TCM.
Rounding out the sweet and complex flavors are fresh ginger and green onion, which are warm and spicy, also great for the colder months to release the exterior, disperse cold and warm the Yang.
We are happy to share this recipe with you, and would love to hear about your own variations!
- 1 whole duck
- 1 tsp Dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp 5 Spice powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- ½ Tbsp Toasted Sesame oil
- 1 ½ cup (cooked) Sticky (sweet glutinous) rice
- 1 small fresh Taro root (or a 2-inch piece of large Taro)
- 1 stick fresh Shan yao/ Dioscorea opposita/ Chinese Yam (or 2 g reconstituted dried)
- 6 raw Chestnuts (Easy tip: substitute with ready-to-eat ones)
- 12 pc Bai lian zi / Nelumbo nucifera/ White lotus seeds
- 2 g Bai he/ Lilium brownii/ Lily bulb
- 8 pc Hong zao / Ziziphus jujuba/Red Dates
- 4 pc Xiang gu/ Letinus edodes / Shiitake mushrooms (dried)
- ¼ cup Dried scallops (shredded)
- 2 links Chinese Sausage
Stuffing Marinade Ingredients
- 3 Tbsp Low sodium Soy sauce
- 2/3 Tbsp Diced green onion
- 2/3 Tbsp Diced Ginger
- 1/3 Tbsp Chicken bouillon
- 2/3 Tbsp Sugar
- 2/3 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- 4 cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
- 30g (about 10 small pieces) Rock sugar
Braising Sides (optional)
- 8-10 pc (large slices) fresh bamboo shoots (or ½ can if slivered)
- 4-5 slices of Ginger
- 8 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms
- 10 pieces dried scallops
- 2 Tbsp Gou qi zi
(Read all before beginning to have kitchen tools ready)
- Wash the duck and remove any innards. Blanch in boiling water to tighten the skin and set aside to allow the duck to dry, or pat dry with paper towels.
- Put the duck on a tray or in a large bowl and rub the Duck Marinade on the skin and inside the body cavity.
- (Wrap and leave overnight in the refrigerator for best flavor.)
- Heat oil in a wok to a light boil.
- Using a metal “S” hook, spear the skin on the neck of the duck and suspend. Hold above the wok and ladle oil onto the skin to crisp/seal it. (This step is optional, but the skin will not hold up to braising as well without this step.)
- Set the duck aside to cool.
- Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, wash, peel, rinse, and dice the taro and fresh Shan yao. (Raw taro and Shan yao are very alkaline and may cause itchiness upon contact, hence the gloves.)
- Rinse and score the chestnuts with an “x”. Boil for a few minutes then soak in cold water to help make removing the shell and skin around the nut easier. Chop. If using the ready-to-eat ones, just chop.
- Boil the White Lotus seeds and Lily Bulbs for about 15 minutes until relatively soft. Halve the lotus seeds.
- Soak the Red Dates, remove the pit, and dice.
- Soak the dried Shiitake mushrooms in water, remove the stems, and dice. (Always use dried, not fresh Shiitake mushrooms for better umami flavor).
- Dice the Chinese sausage.
Stuffing Marinade Preparation
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan/wok.
- Add Chinese sausage, stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add lotus seeds, lily bulbs, Shan yao, taro, red dates, chestnuts, shiitake mushroom continue to stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.
- Add stuffing marinade and mix.
- Add cooked sticky rice, turn off heat, and mix.
- Fill duck body cavity with the stuffing mixture.
- Thread bamboo skewer(s) along the duck’s skin to close the opening and secure the stuffing (or sew up).
- Arrange sliced bamboo shoots and ginger slices at the bottom of a clay casserole or Dutch oven. (This helps prevent the duck from sticking to the bottom.)
- Place duck into the clay casserole/Dutch oven.
- Add braising ingredients. Cover, bring to boil, then cook on low-medium boil for 45 minutes.
- Remove lid, turn the duck over and add any optional Braising Sides ingredients to the liquid. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat, skim (and save) duck fat for future use.
- Remove skewers before serving