Duck closes in from the periphery to take the spotlight at Shangri–La
Ducks are not just sitting pretty anymore. At 19 Oriental Avenue, Shangri-La they have been teased and cajoled to shed their inhibitions and please the palate. Roasted, shredded, minced, diced and braised — the venerable duck comes in all shapes at “Delectable Duck”, on till September 6. Duck meat is meant to be a fighter and doesn’t believe in giving in meekly. So it is a battle with knife and fork at times, but in the end the fibrous meat gives enough to chew on.
Compared to the more popular chicken, duck meat is a ruffian — brawny and tough. It has to be coaxed to soften. That’s why Chef Wang Bing says even in China, where it has a dedicated following, duck is rarely cooked at home. “Duck is complicated to cook. You should have expertise. One should know how to cook it and should have enough time,” says Bing. Duck needs to be pampered and cooked for one-and-a-half to two hours to kill its not-too-pleasant smell and make it tender.
Duck demands you warm up to it well. For starters try the crispy duck roll. The duck slab rolled in with a flour and egg wrapper is a firecracker. Served with hoisin sauce, it crackles in the mouth and gives loads to chew on. Stir-fried duck minced with water chestnut and pinenut brings on an interesting play of flavour. Stir-fried minced duck gets a scrambled appearance and is considerably tender. But the surprise is the chestnut and pine nut that lifts it from the mundane.
Roast duck soup is creamy, light and pleasingly bland. However, giant chunks of tofu and shitake usurp its importance, and the duck shreds seem to be in sulking. In the main course, braised duck with mushroom and bamboo shoot in spicy chilli bean sauce no doubt tastes good. Yet it falls prey to excesses. It is difficult to give duck its due when there are so many vegetables vying for attention. Fried noodle with shredded duck and vegetables is excellent. The noodles are cooked to perfection and the duck acts as a perfect foil.