Beer Braised Duck (啤酒鴨)

There were three things I learned about beer when I was growing up in China. 1) It wasn’t originated from China but it was getting increasing amount of popular. 2) To me it tasted funny and I did not enjoy drinking it. I didn’t become a regular beer drinker until much later after I moved to the States. 3) The last thing I learned about beer was that it was one of the best kept cooking secrete before I came across the dish beer braised duck.

It’s said that beer braised duck was born of pure accident in the early 90s. According to the urban legend, the inventor of this dish at the time was a chef owner running a failing duck casserole restaurant in Sichuan (Szechuan) / Hunan region. One late evening, a group of drunken customers accidentally spilled a whole bottle of beer into the spicy duck casserole they were eating. Out of curiosity, the owner tasted the duck and he was slammed by the special savory flavor that he never had before. It turned out that the beer was a natural tenderizer to duck and combination of beer and duck created an this unbelievable taste. He modified his duck recipe and quickly added this beer braised duck dish on the menu. The next thing we know was the duck dish became a huge success in the region and the owner made a fortunate.

As much as I want to tell how delicious this dish is I just can’t be descriptive enough to give you a full sense of the savor and tastiness of that tender duck soaked in reduced light beer sauce. Instead, I am going to share this exclusive beer duck recipe that I have been using for years (and this might be the only English recipe you’ll find on this beer duck). You’ll be the person to validate if what I said was right.

This recipe which was adapted from the original dish I had in China uses yam cake (魔芋) as an ingredient to complement the duck. If you are lucky you can probably find it for sale in a Japanese supermarket or some big Chinese supermarket. Otherwise use taro or potatoes instead.

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Beer Braised Duck – Ingredients

2 lb Duck drumsticks, or a cut up whole duck

1 can Beer ( I used a 470ml can)

1 pack Yam cake (魔芋), about 12oz

5 White mushroom

1 tbsp Spicy chili bean paste

4 Thai chili pepper, minced

4 slice Ginger

3 clove Garlic,minced

1 tbsp Dark soy sauce

1 tbsp regular soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

Scallions for decoration

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Beer Braised Duck – Step By Step

1. Slice the yam cake into 1 inch thick slices. Soak in hot salt water for about 20 mintues. This is to reduce the pungent flavor from yam cake. Rinse and pat dry the duck.

2. Over medium heat, pan sear the duck in a single layer for about 6 minutes. Cook until the skin turns brown and a good amount of fat is rendered. Transfer the duck and fat. I keep the rendered duck fat in the fridge just in case I am in the mood for a nice duck confit.

3. In a skillet, cook the garlic, ginger, chili pepper in 2 tbsp of duck fat. Add the seared duck and mix.
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4, Slowly pour the beer to the duck. Add soy sauce, sugar and mix well with the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the duck is submerged in beer initially.

5. Cover with a lid and simmer in low heat for about 1 hour. Stir it occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more beer if it gets dry.

6. Add the yam cake and cook for another 20 minutes. By now the duck should be tender and you should have about 1 cup of liquid left. Add salt to taste if necessary. Add mushroom and cook for another 5 minutes.

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This dish goes well with beer. Remeber the old saying: like attracts like :)
Now tell me what is your favorite beer dish?

25 comments

  1. I would like to knowb What kind of beer did you used? Thanks

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  4. Hi, I tried this dish in China and was searching for a recipe when I stumbled across your website. It’s great! I was wondering about the chili bean paste. Do you add it in step 4 where it says, “mix well with the rest of the ingredients”? Also, another dish I really enjoyed in China was shui zhu yu. Would you happen to have the recipe for that as well? Thanks!

    • Hi Matt. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am so glad to hear that you had this in China. It was really good right? Yes I normally add the chili bean paste at step 4. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
      And yes I make water braised fish or shui zhu yu at home all the time as it is one of my favorite Sichuan dishes. I’ll definitely share it soon. In the mean time please check out the recipe for water braised beef here

  5. A group of us have just been wowwed by this amazing dish in a local restaurant in Harbin. Hence I searched on the dish. Did not know of such a dish before….and I have only cooked with wine and not beer before either. So the recipe will be put into good use very soon! Thank you!

    • Hi Sue, thanks for your visit. I am really glad that you liked the dish when you had it in Harbin (which btw I have not yet been to). It reminds me of my first time having this dish many years ago…I was completely blown away.
      Looks like you have some serious cooking to do…please write back and let me know how it turns out :)

  6. Thanks for your recipe! I am going to cook it for 30 people in our department tomorrow. Also, I am just curious whether we can use chicken instead of duck?

    • Hi Kelvin, thanks for your visit.
      Yes you can use chicken instead but it will miss the gamy flavor that duck has though (a good and bad thing depends on your preference).
      Good luck with your big cookout! Let me know how it turns out :)

      • Hi Yi, Thanks for your reply. The beer chicken was a great success and my colleagues loved it! You were right that I did miss the gamy flavour from duck. haha, thanks again 😀

  7. Oh I’ve been having this duck craze and roasted a whole duck (albeit not a great success), I think this might just be an easier dish to start off :) I love anything braised and with beer, definitely my cup, erm mug of tea/beer? :)

    • Hi Min,I haven’t had enough courage to roast a whole duck yet but I know eventually I will.
      Will let you know how it comes out:)

  8. Looks very delicious, yummy yummy~

  9. I love duck in any preparation. Tried a lot but not beer braised duck. This sound very interesting to me. Love the last pic.

  10. I tried the duck today! it’s soooo good!! I had a hard time finding a chili bean paste, at teh end, i got the Thai chili paste. i had to eat it with rice because the spicy chili bean paste made it really spicy! (is it suppose to be That spicy?)
    everyone loved it! I was surprised that it had a tint of a sweetness to it. it was really subtle. Loved it!!
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Xing,
      Thanks for the feedback. The bean paste I used in the recipe (or in most other Sichuan recipes) is called Doubanjina (豆瓣酱). You can find it at a Chinese supermarket.

      I like the idea of using Thai chili paste. It’ll definitely add a kick to the spiciness. I am getting bored of the mild spicy of my version so I’ll try the Thai chili paste next time!

  11. i shouldn’t be looking at this this late in the night…im sooo hungry when you talked of tender braised duck with the yam cake! I do want to try this recipe soon – i adore duck but have never actually cooked it at home before!

    • Hi Vivenna, I have to admit that I don’t cook duck that often as well. One of my goals this year is to master a few duck dishes and add to my regular dinner menu :)

      • looking forward to read more duck posts to come 😀 for me, its a ‘restaurant dish’..something i eat when im out lol.

        btw, rgd the matcha powder – i bought it in Japan but I can’t remember the brand anymore (its expired so I chucked it away) arghh. I tried looking for it online but can’t find it …i rem the name was in japanese and its in a black tea-container/tin. i think you get what you pay for with green tea (the more expensive, the better quality/the powder has a deeper/more vibrant green colour). hth!

  12. This looks interesting. I love duck but not so much a beer fan. Is this dish served anywhere at a restaurant?

    • Hi Fiona, I actually have not had this dish outside of the China. You can definitely try your local Sichuan / Hunan resaturants. If no luck you can always try this recipe at home:)

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