Vietnamese Braised Duck in Spicy Orange Sauce (Vit Nau Cam)
- One whole duck (about 4-1/2 pounds)
- 6 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Juice of 16 medium oranges (about 4 cups)
- Juice of 2 limes (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 5 pieces star anise
- One 4-inch piece cassia bark (or cinnamon stick)
- 4 fresh, dried or brined red Thai chiles
- 12 scallions, root ends trimmed, stalks lightly crushed
- 3 stalks lemongrass - root ends trimmed, bruised outer leaves removed, and stalks knotted
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- Place the duck in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Render the fat and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 45 minutes. Transfer the duck to a paper-lined plate. Pour the fat into a heatproof jar and reserve for future use. Do not wash the pot.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the same heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, and sauté until golden (about 1 minute). Stir in the orange juice, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and five-spice powder. Return duck to the pot, along with the star anise, cassia, chilies, scallions, and lemongrass. Add 1 quart water, cover and reduce the heat to low. Braise until the meat falls off the bones but the bird is still whole, about 3-1/2 hours. Skim off any fat and discard.
- Transfer the duck to a serving platter, along with some of the aromatics. Strain the remaining liquid and pour into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Mix the tapioca starch with 1 tablespoon water, and whisk into the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Pour about ⅓ of the sauce over the duck; serve the rest on the side.
Pure rendered duck fat can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. If unused, simply reheat, cool, and freeze again. It is an excellent cooking oil. Tapioca starch doesn't thicken as much as cornstarch. It is very delicate, which is much preferred here.
What others are saying
Katie Hason says:
I was able to find all of the ingredients, except for cassia bark. I used cinnamon instead. I also saved the duck fat, which was a huge win for us because it's not very easy to find. This was a delicious dish, it should be on a restaurant menu!
Caro Hodgin says: