Teochew Braised Duck (Lo Ack/滷鸭)
December 09th, 2009 216 Comments

Teochew Braised Duck (Lo Ack/滷鸭)

What an honor to have another cookbook author gracing the cover of Rasa Malaysia…introducing Pat Tanumihardja of “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook“—a gorgeous and beautifully written cookbook released in Oct 2009 with food photography by Lara Ferroni. A couple of years ago, Pat invited me to share my family’s recipes in her book, especially recipes from my late grandmother who was a Nyonya. While I was overwhelmed by the opportunity, I turned it down on the mere reason that I’d like to “save” the recipes for my future cookbook project, when it comes along. “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook” is easily one of my favorite cookbooks this season, so please welcome Pat and check out her Teochew braised duck or Lo Ack/滷鸭 guest post below.

When I was growing up in Singapore, my mother would sometimes bring home a whole or half duck—succulent, slick with soy sauce, and very tasty—from the nearby hawker center to supplement our dinner. My siblings and I would dig in heartily, devouring every part of the bird. And we, a family of dark meat lovers, always came away with satisfied grins on our faces, as unlike with a whole chicken, no one had to contend with white meat. Even though mum is a fabulous cook, I remember wishing that she would be too busy to cook more often.

Since moving to the U.S., I had long stored these memories away. Not because I don’t like duck anymore but here in the U.S., things are just different. There is no uncle at the hawker stall just around the corner to proffer his best bird, nor does it cost only $5 for a whole cooked duck. You’d be hard pressed to even find a single duck breast for that amount of money! I do enjoy duck when I eat out at restaurants but I’d never cooked duck at home believing its preparation best relegated to French chefs and duck die-hards.

This all changed when I was doing research for my cookbook The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook, Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens. I happened on a gem of a recipe from my good friend’s mom who is Singaporean. Redolent with Chinese and Southeast Asian flavors, and best of all, oh-so-easy, this recipe was already a winner in my books before I tasted it.

And when I tested it in my kitchen, I was head-over-heels in love.

While this braised duck recipe doesn’t have the exact DNA of the duck of my childhood memories, it comes close enough. I have long learned that as an immigrant, you have to adapt and shift your expectations whether it pertains to your palate or life in general. With that said, I hope you enjoy it too.

Click Page 2 for the Teochew Braised Duck (Lo Ack/滷鸭) Recipe
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216 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Brenda says:

    I would love the opportunity to win your cookbook. My grandmother passed away years ago and I was still learning to cook “grandmothers cooking”. I try to make things like she did and love to hear my dad say “just like Ma use to make it”. Happy holidays.

  2. Kyle says:

    This would be a great xmas gift for myself!

  3. Eleanor says:

    Wow, that book looks impressive. Hope to win and try some of the recipes.

  4. buzzinghive says:

    This looks yummy. Makes me miss duck noodles in SG – I’ve not had them since moving to US 2 years ago. :( Fresh poultry is really hard to find here. If I win the book, I’ll definitely give my utmost to get the freshest ingredients, hm, maybe rear my own ducks! :b

  5. this is exactly what my stomach is calling for right now. i love the combo of flavors and that dipping sauce – whoa. excellent. when can you come over?!

  6. RC says:

    Wow, the duck looks amazing! Can’t wait to try making it myself. :) I would love to win that cookbook too, thanks for the opportunity!

  7. I had no idea there’s lemongrass in a Teochew braised duck. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  8. Natalia says:

    Everytime I’ve looked for a recipe for my favorite asian dishes ,0my searches have brought me back to your wonderful site. I can’t wait to try and make this duck recipe! =)

  9. Stephanie Richards says:

    My mouth is watering after reading this recipe. I hope I win! I need a lil’ Asian persuasion in my kitchen! And who would have figured, my baby is a meat eater..he wants this duck! And I want this book!


  10. melissa T says:

    making this for dinner tonight! nice warm duck..yumm!! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes :)


  11. Gale says:

    Yum! Everytime I visit this large Oriental market in Tampa, FL I look forward to buying the duck. Thank you for the recipe. I’ve never tried to cook duck, but might just try it during the Holidays.

  12. Diane Teoh says:

    I have been waiting to check this book out since I heard of it. I do hope I win it, so I won’t have to look for it int he library.
    My father is Teochew and although I have not had this dish, or at least I cannot remember ever eating it, I would love to try it out.

    Pat, kudos to you for getting all the grandmas and aunties to share their precious recipes with you.


  13. tai says:

    This looks amazing…

  14. Jen says:

    This recipe looks great! I’m thinking I might try it as part of our Christmas lunch, since we don’t eat duck all the time it is something special for Christmas. And I love the fact that people are writing cookbooks like these and documenting all that wonderful cooking heritage that our mothers and grandmothers have learnt from their mothers. It’s so important that we document this rich heritage before it’s gone!

  15. chin says:

    yes I like this cook very much by looking at the cover it really me hungry

  16. ariel lee says:

    Helo Pat…and everyone who is reading…..

    I got a question previously on how come more Teochew recipes around but not the rest of the Chinese group like Foochow, Hakka, Cantonese etc…is it because Teochew are better cook?

    Anyone got answer to this? I’m curious to find out why…that’s all.

    Good luck to everyone for the book [including me ;-) ]

  17. Wansim Davison says:

    Wow, love to try this recipe soon – looks so good and I am thinking of Teochew porridge to go with this dish. Yum!

  18. wonderful dish and recipe. i love lo ack!!!

  19. jia hui says:


    Thanks for the recipe. My MIL loves braised duck. Can’t wait to cook it for her and also all the other recipes.

    Thank you

  20. As a Malaysian living in Italy, I craaaaaave for Msian food every time I arrive at this site. And one of the dishes I crave for the most is this duck dish that my aunt used to cook. Im not sure what exactly she used, but it looked like it had preserved black beans in it. OMG divine. And whenever I see duck at the supermarket here, I wished I knew how to cook it. Maybe I’ll give this a try. Hope I get the book, it will help me greatly in my quest to reproduce some authentic Asian food.

  21. laura says:

    I’ve been in South Africa for the past 3 years now, and your website has helped me figure out how to satisfy my craving for authentic Asian food–by cooking my own food rather than rely on the the Westernized sweet and sour pork or egg foo yung the locals make! Thanks!

  22. thong says:

    your cook book look very nice x am I the luck ones to have it .
    good luck

  23. Jenny says:

    ariel lee: I think differently -I’m of Teochew descent (mainly) but find Teochew recipes to be lacking in general. I’ve been searching for more cookbooks that focus on this little known cuisine -I suppose in South East Asia, it may be better known due to the large Teochew migrations (namely Singapore, Thailand, etc).
    Also, the exposure of a cuisine does not necessarily mean the respective cooks are better.

    • ariel lee says:

      Thanks for sharing….

      Ya, that’s what i thought so, somehow i don’t find that many Teochew in Malaysia except maybe in Penang because the rest of the country’s Chinese are mostly Hakka if I’m not wrong.

      As for Foochow they are minority really but sad to say to see not many recipes from grandma’s are handed down to their next generation and it is really difficult to find one authenthic one. I’m a Foochow by the way, that’s why the curiousity.

  24. Last but not least, I wish I can have this book and love to try out the recipes !!

  25. rc says:

    I was never a duck eater, but thats going to change as I am trying this recipe. Can you suggest an asian drink (preferably) or a wine to pair it with?

  26. PacficPost says:

    Nothing’s better than fond memories from childhood, especially about food! The chili-lime dipping sauce sounds especially good. Can’t wait to try the recipe.

  27. Tess says:

    Looks lovely and delicious.

  28. BL LAU says:

    Looks fabulous and delicious. This maybe the Sg version Lor Ark but what I missed most is my late Mother’s version of typical Penang Teochew Lor Ark. All the ingredients are the same except you missed out the most important “5 spice powder”. Also, my late Mother used to rub the salt and 5 spice powder in/outside of the whole duck and then all the spices (all those galangal, lemongrass, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorn and whole smashed garlic)has to be put into the duck’s cavity. Then, she caramelized some sugar in the hot wok and seared the whole duck before she added in the water and dark soy sauce (the rest of cooking steps are the same) for simmering until done . According to my late Mother, this whole process will make the Lor Ark more succulent, aromatic and super delicious!

    How I missed my late Mother and her Lor Ark! Ya, I am gonna make one this weekend for my family.

  29. Kate says:

    Looks absolutely yummy.

  30. rowena says:

    i tried this recipe last week ,instead of duck i used a whole chicken very delicious indeed , thanks again

  31. Amara says:

    I am interested in learning about my cultural roots through food, what a great idea for a cookbook. I’d love to throw my hat in the ring to win it. :)

  32. Lili says:

    LOVE duck.
    I would love to win a copy of this book!

  33. luke says:

    hey there, i m abit confused when i came across the recipe. i was wondering what does it mean by “4 whole cloves”. Are you regarding garlic? 4 whole cloves would be like around 40-50 loose garlic? thanks :D i m looking forward to your reply, bought the whole duck today :D

  34. I cooked Lor Ark a few times last year, this is the first recipe using lemon grass in the cooking. How interesting! I guess the author is right: you have to adapt and shift your expectations whether it pertains to your palate or life in general. :)

  35. Wondering says:

    Who won the book?

  36. elaine says:

    With chinese new year’s just around the corner this would be a great book to
    browse thru to get recipes ideas.


  37. Jimmy says:

    Patricia, I’d love to win your cookbook. Everything that I’ve tried has been ‘spot on’ delish!, Lo Ack is next.

  38. sue says:

    What a wonderful way to combine the asian culinary arts in a single book. Are you in the SF Bay area to do a booktalk/demo?

  39. SparklingRachel says:

    I tried this recipe, but it was a bit salty for my taste. Lucky me, my family like it and the dipping sauce made a great difference. I think with another round of practice, I can make it better with sugar? I have a sweet tooth.

  40. Yanny says:

    HI all, I see this recipe being shared on several other websites & blogs. I tried this recipe but I think there’s something wrong with it, so halfway through I threw out the sauce and changed recipe. It is definitely way too salty and not as sweet as it should be. I even wondered if the salt should be 2 tsp instead of 2 Tbsp as is instructed in this recipe!!! o_o I have never cooked anything else that requires 2 Tbsp of salt for this amount of food/liquids.

    In most other recipes that I come across, the salt is only 1 tsp or to taste. And the sugar is more, 2 to 3 Tbsp. Other recipes also use less star anise (like maybe 2 or 3) and cinnamon (1 stick). When I tried this recipe it turned out a bit bigger, I wonder if it’s too much star anise & cinnamon. Most other recipes also don’t use lemongrass, so this seems like an abberation.

  41. petertslim says:

    Braised duck is really delicious but must not be too salty. The dark colour gravy can be use to boil “lo chai” a type of vegetable for about an hour under a small heat flame till it is soft, very delicious. My whole family love it, however this vegetable is not so available anywhere in any markets. Only market in Chinatown sell it, must be early to purchase as demand exceed supply. Please try or you will missed out this fabulous dish. Remember only braised duck gravy can give the best original taste. Teochew elders should know, it’s basically a Teochew originated dish. YUMMY YUMMY!

  42. Pingback:Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber: A Chinese New Year experiment | tea and sesame

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