The third week of May’s Book club brings Duck Noodle Soup from Thailand.
I love duck, but wow it’s expensive! A whole duck from Tesco was going to cost me not much less than £20! £20!! The duck crowns were on offer at £8, so I bought one of those instead. With all of the other ingredients, this is one expensive bowl of soup. I’m sure it’s much cheaper in Thailand, where the ingredients are local and in abundance – it must be! Rick Stein says how he ate it at Or Tor Kor Market in Bangkok, which I wouldn’t imagine charge fine dining prices.
One day I would love to visit a market just like that, as he describes in the book. My perfect holiday would be some sort of foodie adventure, sampling different foods as we travelled around east Asia. Yum.
Anyway, back to the recipe!
The duck crown was smothered in hoisin sauce before being roasted in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes. Once cooked, it needed to be left to cool, before removing the meat from the carcass. This took a while.
The carcass is used to make the broth. Brought to a simmer in a pan of water with spring onions, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and star anise, it’s left on a low heat for three hours. Now, if they made a candle of this smell, I would buy it like a shot. My house smelt wonderful! The whole house. For three hours. Delicious.
A great feature of Far Eastern Odyssey, is the index of ‘Basic Recipes’ needed throughout the book. For example, the recipe for this soup references the recipe for ‘duck broth’ found in the Basic Recipes index, amongst other broth recipes, spice blends and pastes. He’s also taken the time to at the back of the book to explain in detail what some of the more unusual ingredients are, where they’re from, and how they’re used.
The stock is strained in a fine sieve, and put back on the heat. You then get to throw in lots of other lovely ingredients such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, palm sugar, chillies, ginger and spring onions. Looking good.
To serve, cooked fine egg noodles and blanched bean sprouts are put in the bottom of the bowl, then topped with the sliced duck breast. fried slices of garlic, coriander and spring onions. The soup is ladled on top, and a Thai bowl of deliciousness is made.
The flavours are very well balanced considering the amount of different ingredients – there wasn’t one dominant flavour. The duck meat was moist, and the beansprouts (something I’m not usually keen on) were lovely and crunchy. The aniseed flavour coming from the star anise in the broth was a dream.
The soup is meant to be served with little side bowls of ‘flavourings’: fish sauce with birds eye chilli, rice vinegar with fresh chilli, dried chilli flakes and palm sugar. As if this soup needed any more flavour?! However, they were great! The vinegar was a lovely contrast which brought a freshness, and the chilli flakes were lovely little hits of heat.
It’s becoming a bit of a theme with this book, but seriously, this soup took me six hours to make from start to finish. Yes, a lot of that time was roasting the duck, leaving it to cool, and then making the broth, but I stupidly hadn’t read ahead, so hadn’t expected it to take so long. I HAD planned it as lunch, but it was early evening by the time we ate!
This soup was great. I have never before tried a noodle soup of any kind, and it’s now something that I’ll order when eating out from now on. Will I make it again? Hmm. It WAS pretty expensive and time consuming, but yes, I think I will. Even if it’s just for my house to smell that good again!