SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Taucheo duck is a family dish hair salon director Pearly Chha, 30, relishes whenever she visits her aunt's vegetable farm in Cameron Highlands.
But Ms Chha has to work hard to eat this dish.
"My aunt says that if I want to eat taucheo duck, I have to help catch the duck. It takes me an hour to catch one," said Ms Chha, chuckling.
"Luckily, I have not forgotten the training from my childhood."
Cameron Highlands is Ms Chha's home town, and she travels there once or twice a year to visit her aunt, staying a few days each time.
Her aunt grows mainly cabbage, kailan and caixin. She also rears chickens, ducks and geese for her family's consumption.
Ms Chha said: "The way of life on the farm has not changed much. You eat what you grow, and if you want a different type of vegetable, you ask your neighbour."
Taucheo duck was one of her late grandmother's signature dishes, a treat usually reserved for festive occasions such as Chinese New Year.
Her grandmother taught her aunt how to cook the dish.
Ms Chha said: "It is an easy dish to cook, especially if you do not have to catch the duck yourself."
The list of ingredients is so short it almost made me nervous. But I tried the recipe, and the results proved that it needs no augmentation.
No garlic or onion is used, and taucheo - fermented bean paste - is the key ingredient.
Do not miss out on the lotus root. It absorbs the flavours of the duck, ginger and taucheo.
If you get lotus root of good quality, the fine powdery texture complements the tender duck meat.
I did not remove the duck skin and accompanying fat when cooking the dish.
The duck practically fries itself in its own fat as it is cooking in the wok. You can, however, remove the skin when eating.
The gravy, though oily, is tasty and goes well with steamed plain rice.
It does make sense to work up an appetite and burn some calories before eating this hearty dish. If you do not have to chase after an evasive bird, consider walking or running to the nearest wet market or supermarket to purchase a chilled duck.
150ml cooking oil
120g ginger, thinly sliced
1 whole duck (1.9kg), cut into large pieces (about 7cm by 7cm)
3 Tbs (150g) to 4 tbsp (200g) taucheo (fermented bean paste)
550g lotus root (two sections), cut into 1.5cm-thick pieces.
1 Tbs sugar
1.2 litres water
1. Heat oil in wok over medium-low heat.
2. Add ginger slices and fry for 2 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add duck and stir-fry for 10 minutes.
4. Add taucheo and stir thoroughly.
5. Add lotus root and cook for another five minutes.
6. Add sugar and stir through.
8. Pour in water.
9. Stir through and simmer with wok covered for one hour over medium-low heat. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes.
10. Serve hot.
Yields six to eight servings.