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Duck Delicacies Have Thrived for Centuries 2017-06-27
In traditional Chinese medicine, duck meat is considered cold and sweet because ducks mainly live on aquatic products for food. Therefore, people who have excessive inner heat are recommended to try duck meat to lower the heat and remove toxins.

For those suffering from lung, spleen and stomach diseases, duck meat can help alleviate some of their problems. TCM suggests it could nourish their organs, remove edema, relieve cough and reduce sputum.

Due to its high nutritive value, ducks are considered as poultry meat by people living in the south of Yangtze River. They have cooked up plenty of duck dishes that are both yummy and of nutritional value. Shanghai Daily recommends three of them which you can savor in local restaurants.


Salted duck

This dish originated in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province and boasts a history of more than 2,500 years. Because of its succulent meat, tender skin and palatable taste, it enjoyed widespread fame across the country. Since Nanjing residents cook it around Mid-Autumn Festival when osmanthus flowers bloom, diners have also named it osmanthus duck.

Nanjing’s climate and geographical conditions are suitable for breeding ducks. Historical records show that early in Spring and Autumn Period, people living in Nanjing were already into duck trade.

But it was in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (AD 420-589) that salted duck came into being. In Song (960-1279) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, the dish even shared the same social status with the then Nanjing Imperial College, Big Bao’en Temple’s pagoda, and Nanjing-style brocade, which in return reflected its importance in lives of ordinary Nanjing citizens.

Salted duck was also the delicacy served for the royal family when Nanjing was made the capital. It is said that Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, would have an entire salted duck every day.

Along with history, a saying started to do the rounds — “Nanjing duck ranks first in the world.” Since then, salted duck has been an indispensable part of Nanjing.

During the Republic of China (1911-1949), the duck industry boomed with government’s support. There were nearly 200 salted duck stores in the city.

A group of time-honored brands quickly came into the being, some of which are still around in the modern era.

Where to eat:

• Gangyagou Restaurant

Address: 255 Yan’an Rd

Tel: (0571) 8798-1926

Stewed duck in beer

Legend has it that when Emperor Shun paid a visit to Linwu County in Hunan Province, he was fascinated by its picturesque scenery and folk customs. He used his magic powers to transform four stones into ducks, which featured white circular feather around neck. Thereafter, raising that variety of ducks became a local tradition.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Emperor Kangxi visited Linwu County on a southbound trip. One day, when Kangxi walked into a roadside eatery to take shelter from rain, the chef served a duck dish and mellow rice wine.

When the emperor and his accompanying officials were sampling the treat, one man spilled rice wine over the duck dish by accident, which strangely only made the food more fragrant and tasty.

When Kangxi went back to the imperial palace, he ordered chefs to cook that dish by adding rice wine.

In addition, herbs were also used during cooking. Along with time, the dish was enjoyed in the country and went on to become a regular feature of home-cooked meal.

Where to eat:

• Pijiuya Hotpot Restaurant

Address: 135 Yan’an Rd

Tel: 137-7758-8897

This dish can be seen at both feasts and daily meals. People can order it at upscale restaurants and also buy it at roadside food stores. Though popular with diners, people seldom cook it at home because it can be very time consuming.

First, the duck has to be marinated with soy sauce and hung on a ventilated platform until the sauce dries out. Then, the duck is coated with a layer of seasonings and stuffed with spices, and put in a pot for 12 hours at temperatures as low as zero degree Celsius.

Next, pour soy sauce into the pot until the duck is completely immersed in it and then preserve it for another 24 hours. Then, take out the preserved duck and stew in soy sauce until it turns crimson, and then dry it in sun for two to three days.

This cuisine is said to be created during Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). An imperial chef named Shi Jiu worked for the royal court for years while his mother lived a lonely life in his hometown. One day, the mother fell into a lake and was saved by a man who cultivated ducks nearby.

Shi immediately quit his job and returned to take care of his mother. Shi met the person who saved his mother and found that he made a living by raising ducks but earned little. To return his favor for saving his mother, he decided to help him to boost his income.

He used the recipes he learned while cooking at the imperial kitchen. It proved to be a success with endless streams of buyers.

After Shi left the imperial court, the delicacies declined. Emperor Chuzhao dispatched officials to get Shi back but he refused to leave his mother. The emperor then gave the dish his royal blessing that helped in popularizing the dish across the country.

Where to eat:

• Jiuqifeng Restaurant

Address: 13 Beishan Rd

Tel: (0571) 8796-9733

Source: Hangzhou English Portal
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