Stewed Duck with Sha Shen & Yu Zhu

During the last year, many of us have possibly experienced weariness, loss of loved ones, or lingering effects from long term illness-depleting our reserves, our Yin. As we move into Spring with a renewed sense of optimism here at Mayway, we would like to share with you one of our favorite family recipes for health and healing.

The star of this stew is duck meat, which has an abundance of nutritive benefits to aid in recovery during convalescence from a prolonged illness. These benefits include Vitamin B-12, which is crucial to the formation of red blood cells, as well as iron, which is essential for hemoglobin production. Duck meat is also a source of glycine; an amino acid that is important for skin health and restorative sleep.

Duck Soup

From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, duck is a Yin tonic that benefits the Kidneys and Lungs, neutral in temperature with a sweet, salty flavor - strengthening the body and tonifying deficiency.

The Yin tonics added to our stew are Bei Sha Shen and Yu Zhu. Both nourish Lung and Stomach Yin, and are often used together for their mutually supportive functions. Bei Sha Shen is cool, sweet, and slightly bitter, and generates fluids, clears Lung Heat, and assists with prolonged fatigue. Yu Zhu is sweet, neutral and is said to help Yin deficient presentations that are the result of prolonged stress and emotional disturbance. Hong Zao and Mi Zao are added for additional sweetness, supporting the Qi of the middle Jiao, harmonizing the flavors, and strengthening the Lung Qi.


  • 57 g Bei Sha Shen/ Glehnia littoralis root
  • 57 g Yu Zhu/ Polygonatum odoratum rhizome
  • 1 Whole Duck
  • 38 g Dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 pc Fresh ginger slices
  • 6 pc Dried red dates / Ziziphus jujuba /Hong zao
  • 2 pc Honey dates / Ziziphus jujuba / Mi Zao
  • 1 Tbs Shaoxing Wine
  • Salt To taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Remove innards and fat from duck. Cut into roughly 12 pieces.
  2. Scald duck pieces in boiling water for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Soak mushrooms until soft and remove stalks.
  4. Rinse Sha Shen, Yu Zhu and dates.
  5. Place all ingredients into a stewing pot.*
  6. Add 6 cups water.
  7. Cover and stew for 3 hours, checking to skim fat off the top as needed (you can save the duck fat for later use!)
  8. Season with salt to taste.

*A Word About Pots

Pots for cooking soups and stews are an important consideration in Chinese cuisine, and the perfect choice of cookware allows for the best flavors and nutritional value. Here are some pots to choose from:

Porcelain double boiler/ “Ginseng Cooker”

This is the top choice for preserving delicate taste and nutrients. However, it will require more cooking time. Generally, it takes 3 hours to cook soup, but at least 4 hours is recommended when using a porcelain double boiler.

Clay casserole with lid on stove top

The clay casserole can not only make soup, but also stews and is considered to be better than ordinary metal pots in terms of enhancing taste and preserving nutrition. Before using the casserole, traditionally a pot of rice soup must first be prepared in it so that the rice soup can penetrate every tiny gap. Seasoning the pot this way will strengthen the surface and prevent cracking or bursting, as well as ensuring the pot will last a long while.

Other options include:

  • Slow cooker
  • Enameled Dutch oven
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Pressure cooker

While fast, cooking soup in a pressure cooker tends to yield very thin soup, both in viscosity and taste, and doesn’t allow for richness of flavor and caramelization. Avoid using Aluminum clad pots.

We hope you enjoy this delicious recipe and will share it with your friends and loved ones!

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