Salted Duck Rice Recipe by Pamelia Chia


Have you ever heard of the traditional Chinese dish Salted Duck (Xian Shui Ya/Yan Shui Ya)? This dish was commonly served with rice in Singapore’s hawker centres decades ago.

In Flavour Memories, Pamelia Chia speaks with her aunt to recreate this old-school dish. How will she fare? 🙈



For the duck:
100g salt (you might need to adjust this based on the size of your duck)
2 star anise 
1 bay leaves 
5 cloves 
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole duck, as small as you can find

For the broth: 
15g galangal, thick coins 
55g ginger, thick coins 
50g unpeeled garlic cloves
1 bay leaf 
2 star anise 
5 cloves 
1 cinnamon stick 
1 lemongrass
2 pandan leaves
45g spring onion, cut in lengths

For the rice: 
Duck cooking liquid
A generous spoonful of butter 

For the chilli:
4 red chillies, chopped (deseeded if you prefer)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon sugar
120g apple cider or white vinegar
For the garnishes:
Coriander leaves
Lime wedges
Additional pats of butter


Fry salt and spices until fragrant and brown. Marinate duck with the salt inside and out 2-3 hours. Wash the duck well to remove all of the blood within the cavity and excess salt from the exterior of the duck. Place the duck in a wok with the broth ingredients and enough water to cover. Season the broth to taste. Heat over low heat, turning occasionally until the duck reaches 57C, about 2 hours. Transfer the duck to a bowl or sink of salted water to cool down before hanging to dry for about 30minutes or 1 hour before cutting into slices. If you prefer, you can remove the breasts and sear them skin-side down in a cold pan, set over high heat, until crispy. 

Meanwhile, rinse rice and cook it with the duck cooking liquid instead of water. It should be seasoned – but taste it and adjust it with more salt if you prefer. Add the butter. Cook as per your ricecooker’s instructions. Stir together the ingredients for the chilli in a bowl. 

Serve the rice with the duck, chilli and garnishes. 

Author Pamelia Chia

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