Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Love is ....

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” ...
Albert Einstein

Braised Duck Tongues

With fermented chilli bean paste
Normal braised

My first experience in appreciating duck tongues was at Lei Garden Restaurant, Orchard Shopping Centre, Singapore.

I am a glutton and very adventurous in experimenting with food. I have been in love with this dish ever since. Fortunately it was a good experience and duck tongues, if available on the menu, was a must order for me.

Unfortunately, the same restaurant and many others have yet to be at par with my first experience in terms of taste and texture. That had formed a yardstick in concert with my own cooked version against those served when dining out.

My worst experience in eating duck tongues was in London, the smell was a real put off.

In one of the famous hotels back in Singapore, the chef agreed with my findings, apologized, rescinded the order but served us complimentary double boiled soup of the day. I offered to pay for the substituted dish as the price differed greatly but the Manager refused as they were extremely appreciative of my diplomacy and constructive criticism without being rude.

I was happy with the end result of my dish as most served outside are unbearably salty to the extent of not being edible for me.

The success of this recipe is due to the many contributions by forerunners from Makansutra on other braised dishes, namely Eslim - http://www.makansutra.com/forums/singapore/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=16 and Tiantianchi - and a few others. Apologies if I have not mentioned you. Due credit shall be accorded if I remember later or please do remind me. Many thanks.

Ready for braising

Stock ready for adding duck tongues

Duck tongues simmering away gently
End result


1. One packet of frozen duck tongues (More than 100 pieces in a packet)
2. Two tablespoons of black sesame oil
3. Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
4. One or two pieces of fermented bean curd - red or white
5. A few slices of ginger, sliced into rings for blanching duck tongues
6. One small piece galangal or blue ginger, lightly bruised if available
7. A few whole garlic cloves, skin removed
8. Half a Spanish onion, sliced into quarters
9. One star anis, a few pieces of cloves and a cinnamon stick
10. A few stalks of spring onions, halved lengthwise and lightly bruised the white stems
11. One teaspoon of 5 spice powder
12. Two whole chillies (optional)
13. One teaspoon of brown sugar
14. Black soya sauce
15. Oyster sauce
16. Salt, if necessary
17. One small cube of rock sugar
18. Splash of Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Chew

To Prepare Duck Tongues
1, Defrost, wash and rinse well.
2. In a small pot, add cold water and ginger slices. Water level about an inch above duck tongues. Bring to a boil. Cook duck tongues for about two minutes or till scum froths on the surface.
This is very important in order to get rid of the blood, impurities and 'smell'. Remove from heat immediately, strain, rinse and wash in plenty of cold water. Make sure duck tongues are very cold. Set aside.

To prepare the Sauce or 'Lor'
1. Medium heat, add oil, brown galangal or ginger slices and whole garlic, fry till fragrant, add star anis, cloves, cinnamon stick and 5 spice powder, stir gently till aromatic.
2. Add onions, spring onions, coriander roots, chillies if used, and fry gently for about two minutes without browning onions. Add fermented bean curd, smear into rest of ingredients for a minute.
3. Lower flame, add brown sugar, mix ingredients well till sugar caramelised.
4. Add dark soya and oyster sauces, fry gently for about a minute.
5. Increase flame to high, splash Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Chew and stir ingredients together.
6. Add water (amount is just slightly below duck tongues) and rock sugar into stock, stir, bring to a boil and leave it to simmer gently for about 30 minutes or more. Be patient as this is paramount to the success of the duck tongues since it does not take long to cook the tongues. Best is to cook the sauce or 'lor' overnight and to add duck tongues the next day. Adjust seasoning accordingly.

To Cook the Duck Tongues
1. Bring sauce slowly back to a boil. If sauce is too watery, take a few tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, when cold, stir in about ¾ tablespoon corn/potato flour, mix well before drizzle gently into sauce. Give it a good stir.
2. Taste stock and adjust seasoning according to your taste.
3. On medium heat, add few stalks of fresh coriander and duck tongues.
Cook for about five minutes and increase heat to high for balance of next five minutes. Stir gently occasionally. Sauce will adhere somewhat to duck tongues on high heat and sauce thickens. Lower heat, if necessary.
4. Taste a piece of duck tongue. I like it with a bite. Prolong simmering if you prefer a softer yield.
5. Serve immediately.

Second Version
On very gentle heat, add fermented chilli bean paste in a small frying pan with sesame oil. When it's aromatic, increase heat, add warm water (just enough to cover duck tongues ) into pan, mix well. When sauce is reduced by half, increase heat, stir in cooked duck tongue to warm through. Serve immediately.

Third Version
It's very yummy deep fried too.

1. The recipe given is not exact in measurements. You need to adjust according to your own palate.
2. Amount of water just enough to cover duck tongues is determined by the quantity you are cooking. Estimate when you are rinsing the blanched duck tongues. *One way to estimate how much water will be required is, once you have finished rinsing the tongues, put them in a dish similar to the one you will use to cook the sauce and pour in the requisite amount. Then save it till needed
3. Do not discard the precious sauce. Freeze for cooking other ingredients of your choice. Strain sauce before freezing.
4. It's very addictive. I can eat about 40 pieces in one sitting. :))