Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Ethnic Auckland: Need to raise your IQ? Try duck head

Recipes from around the world

Golden Jade restaurant chef Ye Jian Hui proudly displays the duck head dish, which is often served on special occasions. Photos / Greg Bowker
Golden Jade restaurant chef Ye Jian Hui proudly displays the duck head dish, which is often served on special occasions. Photos / Greg Bowker

It is a dish that's described as "Shanghai's weirdest foods" by CNN's Kellie Schmitt, but one that is believed by the Chinese to have powers to help your intelligence.

Duck's head is a popular dish in many parts of China and one speciality restaurant there even claims that it "helps your own brain power".

Ye Jian Hui, 35, a chef at Golden Jade Restaurant in Epsom, says duck is often consumed during festivities and celebratory dinners, such as weddings and birthdays back in China.

Peking duck, which has been prepared since imperial times, is considered a national dish of China and today roast duck remains most popular in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and the Canton region.

"It is more expensive than chicken, so sometimes it is seen as a meat for the rich," said Mr Ye.

"It is considered a waste to throw away any part of the duck, so ways are found to cook it to feed the poorer people and today it is also considered a delicacy."

At one speciality restaurant, Dongshan Duck's Head in Wuhan, the snack is prepared by first leaving frozen duck heads under running water for 360 minutes before stir-frying it with some herbs and spices, while at Shanghai-based Jiu Jiu Ya they are stewed with 30 Chinese herbs and barley rice.

At Auckland's Golden Jade, only the lower part of the head is served as the duck's 5cm tongue is considered to be the most prized delicacy, said owner Grace (Fei Ma) Chen.

The fried tongue has a crisp surface and a slightly fatty and creamy body, and tastes nothing like duck meat.

"For people who know how to eat duck heads, the tongue is considered the best part," Ms Chen said.

"There's also a lot of meat you can get from the cheeks and the jaw."

Frozen duck heads are sold at Asian supermarkets, such as Tai Ping, for about $5 per kg.


Ingredients

• 8 duck heads rinsed and dried
• 4 teaspoons of soya sauce
• 2 teaspoons of Chinese (Shaoxing) rice wine
• 1 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 teaspoon coarse chilli powder
• 1 egg white, beaten
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Method:
• Mix soya sauce, rice wine, white pepper and chilli powder in a bowl.
• Add duck heads to the mixture to marinate, ensure it is evenly spread and leave for about 20 minutes.
• Remove duck heads from bowl and mix each one evenly with the egg white and cornstarch.
• Heat oil in a wok to around 180°C and gently place each head into the oil.
• Stir the head slowly to prevent them from sticking.
• Deep fry for around two minutes until they are crisp and golden-brown.
• Remove from wok and drain with a paper towel.
• Serve while hot, and can be garnished with crispy fried garlic and sliced spring onion.
• Head can be sliced in half with only the lower jaw cooked in the same way if preferred.

Where to try:
Golden Jade, 417 Manukau Rd, Epsom.

- NZ Herald

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