Monday, October 27, 2008

Peking Duck Stock


Sometimes, life can be like a perfect dish – just the right ingredients, combined in just the right way, at just the right time. These are moments and experiences that seem like gustatory masterpieces, lovingly prepared by a brilliant master chef. These are the stuff dreams are made of…the stuff we spend time and effort and planning and countless star-wishing to achieve. And when we do finally achieve these pockets of perfection it is amazing.

Most of the time though, I think life is like leftovers. You do the best you can with what’s been dealt. That is not to say that most of the time we are just settling on what is lying around in the back of the fridge. Not at all! I think it’s more a process of taking what life puts in our path and, after assessing the situation, taking steps to make it not just bearable, but beautiful -- perhaps chopping it up into a tasty fried rice, or adding a dash of pimeton de la vera and caramelized onions, or even warming it with some cream and those dried herbs you brought back from France and covering it gently with puff pastry. Sometimes, like life, these dishes don’t always turn out the way you’d like. But sometimes, they turn out so much better than their parts…an edible example of how you can take things (food, situations, people, dreams) seemingly past their prime with nothing left to give, add a little something (heat, love, a new flavor, puff pastry) and have them emerge as if a goddess from the sea…gorgeous, delicious, renewed, surprising and captivating us all. Culinary reincarnation.

This is all part of my continuing mission to avoid food waste…sharing my leftovers-turned-meals and pushing myself to make the absolute best out of what is left behind!

I realize though, at least among my immediate sphere of existence, that part of our leftovers are those doggie-bags we take away from restaurants. Unless the contents are an absolute favorite, they most likely end up tossed after a couple of days in fridge-limbo. So on the road of culinary reincarnation, let’s not forget these stragglers.

Peking Duck Stock

  • The bones (the whole carcass including head) of 1 Peking Duck
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut in half or thirds
  • 4 small red onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, bashed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and bashed
  • 2 star anise
  • A few sprigs of parsley (I used curly and flat as that’s what I had)
  • A few stalks spring onions (I used about 3)
  • Whole black peppercorns (I used the whole sprig you see in the photo) + roughly the same amount Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

- Place everything in a stockpot and cover with water. The water should reach about an inch over the duck.
- Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that appears. Reduce to a simmer and cover pot. Let the stock simmer gently for 2-3 hours.
- Uncover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes more to reduce stock. Taste and either adjust seasoning or reduce further to deepen flavor.
- Portion as you prefer and let cool. Use immediately or store in the fridge if you’ll be using it in a couple of days…if not, freeze for future enjoyment!

Do you doggie bag the carcass of your Peking Duck? You should! It is better off going home with you and making you this delicious stock than staying at the restaurant and perhaps getting tossed out in the dump (poor thing). Besides, you did pay for it! This stock is a perfect case of creating magic from what would appear to be beyond salvage. Aside from the flavor of the duck itself, you are getting all the wonderful aromas of the spices and sauces that go into making Peking Duck! The other aromatics I used were also things in the fridge that needed using up (so feel free to be flexible with them). This makes for a deeply savory stock that you can use in so many ways. I decided to keep it simple and use it as a base for a wonton soup. With some bok choy, chopped spring onions, and cilantro, this was an intensely satisfying dinner (especially since I was feeling sniffly when I had it).

When we have taken those seemingly odd bits life throws in our path, and with a little cleverness and some courageousness, transformed and wrenched success from them – well, I believe these are the stuff greatness is truly made of. If you don’t believe me, just check the history books (and don’t waste those Peking Duck bones!) ;)


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow, well, of course I should take that carcass home but I would never have thought about it, now it's like I have permission! Gorgeous photo!

Culinary reincarnation. Funny, I've called them fresh overs ;0)

Ling said...

Psst Joey... you know the bones and bits left from crispy pata? I did the same as you and made a slow-simmered stock with garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves, and used it for a split pea and ham soup. ;)

This is always a good excuse for me to patronise this Filipino restaurant we have here!

Manggy said...

I dunno if I've ever had something truly trying come into my life before-- or maybe that's the way my life has mostly been and I've just shrugged it off all this time? Ha ha ha :) (No, I kid-- I've been fantastically lucky, I think-- or at least, content with my blessings.)

But I haven't been blessed with a Peking duck for a loooong time! I do so miss it :) The wonton soup that would result from its stock must be fantastic! (kind of really hot tonight, though!)

mtan said...

What's not to love about a duck? Roasted, fried, confitted, turned into soup, and so many more transformations. Love at first quack.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That's an intersting stock recipe! I love duck!



veron said...

Oh my god! I love peking duck and would love this culinary reincarnation of it!

clueless_momma said...

where can you buy Sichuan peppercorns in Manila?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! Fresh overs...I love that!!! Yes you should take it’s part of what you paid for ;) And it truly makes a wonderfully aromatic stock!

Hi Ling! Fantastic idea with the crispy pata bone! I’m doing that next time we have some! How is the Filipino restaurant over there? Nice to see you’re enjoying it :)

Hi Manggy! You are truly a lucky doc...hahaha! Ok, ok, that was sooo corny, sorry I couldn’t resist! Next time you have Peking Duck you know now what to do! (had the soup last week – heehee delayed posting – yes, last night was so hot!)

Hi M! Love at first quack indeed :) I still remember that great duck meal we had at your place!

Hi Rosa! And to think you use something that would have otherwise gone to waste! I love duck too :)

Hi Veron! I know you’d like it! And it doesn’t really cost anything because it’s an “incidental” benefit of a Peking Duck meal already paid for! ;) Imagine that!

Hi there clueless_momma! I bought mine in Spices and Flavors in Market! Market! :)

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Great use of the Peking duck!

canDIshhh said...

We always take the leftover carcass home! My mom always makes leftover Duck Misua! Super yummy!

The duck looks like it was roasted perfectly!!

Giff said...

"When we have taken those seemingly odd bits life throws in our path, and with a little cleverness and some courageousness, transformed and wrenched success from them – well, I believe these are the stuff greatness is truly made of."

Hear hear!

Sophie said...

That was a beautiful post! I couldn't agree more. This is a great way to use leftovers :).

Marvin said...

This must be one of the most flavorful-looking stocks I've seen. I bet that duck head and neck make the stock really rich, and all those herbs and spices too!

ChichaJo said...

Hi JS! It really is! :)

Hi Candishhh! Duck misua! That sounds delicious!

Hi Giff! I believe so :)

Hi Sophie! Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

Hi Marvin! It does make such a wonderful stock...take home the bones next time you have some Peking Duck! :)

Ling said...

Joey - the restaurant is called 7107 Flavours and it's FABULOUS! Been there three or four times since they've opened. They have a large local Filipino following, which is a great sign! What I particularly love about the place is that the serving sizes encourage sharing, family-style. You see people happily passing platters up and down the tables. And everyone there, from the waitstaff to the customers, is SO HAPPY! I'll never forget the waiter who rushed my Brazo de Mercedes over to me with a huge smile and "Ooooo your dessert, m'am!" Not that I was in a hurry, mind you!

Happy Jack said...

i'm the same way with really is satisfying to transform one night's meal into a brand new tasty creation! and i also hate hate hate wasting food (but sometimes it is just inevitable!).

kellypea said...

Fridge limbo indeed. Somehow when I throw something together it doesn't quite look like this! I will say that when I've tried to be thrifty and use a chicken carcass (sans head...)the broth turns out nearly tasteless. Clearly I'm in need of some lessons, but you've inspired me to try again.

Rico said...

very nice and very well explained.

Anonymous said...

Making my own stock is on my list of things to accomplish. Thanks for the inspiration!

Hilary of Smorgasbite

Big Boys Oven said...

i know this stock, it is awesomely delicious. I usually have it with pickle cabbage . . . lovely recipe you have there!

Midge said...

I love the idea of duck stock - especially Peking duck stock. Think of all the possibilities!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ling! It sounds like a wonderful place...and it really sounds like the type of Filipino atmosphere I love :) So nice that you are enjoying it!!!

Hi Happy Jack! I agree! I love that feeling...tonight I used up all the vegetables that were getting past their best before date in the crisper! What satisfaction :)

Hi Kellypea! I know this is going to sound really horrible but I just get a little generous with the, erm, salt (in this case soy sauce...but salt in regular chix stock) ;) It really, erm, opens up the flavour...Then make sure at the last part to leave the pan uncovered and reduce. So that’s suck out the life from those bones, add salt, then concentrate the liquid :)

Thanks Rico! :)

Hi Hilary! Making stock (along with roasting tomatoes) is one of the easiest ways to feel like a domestic goddess in my book ;) Minimal effort, maximum Martha-factor ;)

Hi Big Boys Oven! Thank you! Oooh...pickle cabbage sounds good!

Hi Midge! Yup ;) I know! So many delicious ways to use it!

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JUde said...

Nice post.. I'm definitely with you on avoiding food waste. I'll be looking forward to future posts :)

ChichaJo said...

Thank Liz :)

Hi Jude! More posts on that soon I hope! If you have tips please feel free to share too! :)

lobstersquad said...

beautiful post, and picture.
pity you can´t really get peking duck here, not the whole thing like that.
But maybe we´ll get lucky, there are more Chinse in this city every day.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Ximena! You really can’t find them over there? Maybe they come out to you cut up already but if you pay for the whole duck I’m sure you can ask them to give you the bones to take home :)