"One of my favourite parts of eating Peking duck at my favourite Chinese restaurant is the duck soup that comes alongside. The silky clear broth has a rich but light flavour and feels very nourishing and comforting.
Whenever I cook duck at home (or any bird for that matter) saving the carcass and turning it into broth comes as second nature. It is far beyond my skill set to prepare the delicate and refined duck broth that I so enjoy when eating out, but one day while I was experimenting with a roasted duck broth, I had a craving for ramen. So, this dish is a mashup of sorts, inspired by my love of the clear and nourishing Chinese duck broth crossed with a Japanese shoyu ramen.
After using ingredients to make this chintan broth, they can be used again, to make paitan. The long hard boiling process softens the bones completely, releasing all their flavour and connective tissue into the stock. It’s not absolutely necessary to do both – you can skip straight to the paitan here, if you wish.
It entirely depends on my mood whether I choose a clear chintan broth or a thick and creamy paitan broth. Either way, both are delicious and packed with rich duck flavour.
A pre-roasted whole duck carcass will work perfectly for both the duck chintan ramen and paitan ramen. A whole raw duck, fresh or frozen, works too."
This recipe is from Bowls & Broths by Pippa Middlehurst (Quadrille, £16.99) Photography: India Hobson
Ingredients for the broth
- 1 whole duck (2–2.5kg/4lb 8oz–5lb 8oz), preferably with giblets (variety meats)
- 1 tbsp honey, mixed with 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 400g (14oz) chicken feet
- 200g (7oz) daikon, cut into 5cm (2in) pieces
- 1 leek, cleaned and halved (reserving 5cm/2in of the white part for garnish)
- 5cm (2in) ginger, sliced
- 200ml (7fl oz) Shaoxing rice wine
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3–4L (105–140fl oz) cold water
Ingredients for the aromatic duck fat
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns, sieved (strained)
- 1 tsp onion powder
To season the bowls
How to make duck chintan ramen
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Remove the breasts from the duck (set aside, in the fridge) and place the remaining carcass in a baking tin. Brush the duck carcass all over with the watered-down honey and season with the salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until the duck is dark and golden.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly before transferring to a large cutting board. Using a knife or poultry scissors, break the carcass down into four or five large pieces. Place these into a large stockpot and pour in half of the juices from the baking tin. Pour the other half into a jar or container and chill in the fridge – any debris will sink to the bottom, while delicious creamy white fat will solidify up top.
- Add the chicken feet, daikon, leek, ginger, Shaoxing wine and light soy sauce to the pot. Cover the ingredients with enough cold water (3–4L/105–140fl oz) to submerge everything. Bring the pot to 96°C /204°F, if using a thermometer, or a gentle simmer, and maintain this steady, slow bubble for 3 hours. If the water level sinks so that the ingredients are exposed, top it up 200ml (7fl oz) at a time. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve (strainer) lined with a muslin (cheesecloth) – avoid pressing on the solids as this may cloud the broth. Discard the solids. Set aside and decant any leftovers into containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To cook the duck breasts, place them skin-side down in a cold pan, set over a medium heat. As the heat increases, the skin will begin to render and go crisp – this should take 10 minutes or so. Flip and cook the other side for 3–4 minutes. Remove from the pan and let them rest for at least 10–15 minutes. Don’t worry about them going cold, they will warm up when served in the hot broth.
- Melt the solidified duck fat (discarding the debris) in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry until it’s just beginning to turn golden, then remove from the heat and add the ground Sichuan pepper and onion powder. Combine well and set aside.
- Place the duck broth over a low heat to warm through. Drop the ramen egg into a mug of boiling water for 4–5 minutes to reheat. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for 30 seconds. Scoop them out and set aside.
- In the same water, cook the ramen noodles according to the instructions, drain and rinse with plenty of cold water, once cooked, to stop them sticking together.
- Slice the rested duck breasts into 1cm (½in) slices. Take the sliced leek whites and scrunch them slightly between two hands to separate them.
- To assemble, season each serving bowl with 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 2 tsp mirin, ½ tsp dashi powder, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp sesame seeds and 1 tsp chopped pickled jalapeños. Add 300ml (10½fl oz) warm duck broth and stir to combine.
- To each bowl, add the noodles and top with the duck breast slices, half a ramen egg, blanched bean sprouts and sliced leek whites. Drizzle over the aromatic duck fat and sprinkle over ground Sichuan peppercorns using a sieve (strainer).