• Half a roast goose, char siew, siew yuk and a YinYang (coffee mixed with milk tea) from Yat Lok. #DestinationFlavour (Adam Liaw)Source: Adam Liaw
Roast goose is the succulent, sweet alternative to roast duck. SBS discovers what the gamey meat tastes like when it’s slow roasted, both in Australia and Hong Kong.
Yasmin Noone

14 Jan 2019 - 10:29 AM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2019 - 10:39 AM

If one day, you happen to be meandering through the delicious streets of Hong Kong, following your nose and the scent of roasted treats pouring out of busy street-side eateries, there’s one thing we advise: take a moment to stop and inhale the sight of freshly charred meats dangling behind the glass windows of Cantonese barbecue restaurant shopfronts.

You’ll see roast pork, roast chicken and roast duck on display, plus one other very special creature that’s very rarely served in Australia: roast goose.

When it’s cooked right – as it is in so many Cantonese barbecue or sui mei venues throughout Hong Kong – roast goose is tender, sweet and juicy, and is the preferred game in this part of the world.

One of the most celebrated Cantonese BBQs in Hong Kong is the Michelin starred, 61-year-old family-owned eatery Yat Lok Restaurant (yat lok translates to roast goose in English).

In his latest adventures Destination Flavour China, chef and host, Adam Liaw, visits Yat Lok to taste a revered sample of the restaurant’s secret recipe roast goose for himself.

“It’s kind of dripping with juiciness as you pick it up,” says Liaw in Destination Flavour, China. “It’s like a juicier sweeter version of duck, and the skin is so crispy.”

Chu Kin-Fai, the restaurant owner’s wife, tells SBS that roast goose is not only the house favourite but a tastier choice than roast duck. “Goose tastes better,” she says.

“Ducks are omnivores, have lighter flesh and a very gamey taste, while geese are herbivores, have darker, fattier meat that tastes sweet and fragrant.”

According to Chu Kin-Fai, Yat Lok’s most ordered dish is a roast goose with thick rice noodles in soup. However, you can also get a simple roast goose drumstick served with rice noodles, rice or lo mein (egg noodle stir-fry).

But it seems that no matter what the style of roast goose dish the eatery serves, the meat is incredibly popular. “The shop only makes a limited number of 80 geese per day and they sell out every day.”

Although Yat Lok’s roast goose recipe has been kept confidential, there are a few techniques for cooking the perfect dish that Chu Kin-Fai shares with SBS.

“After marinating the birds in a secret recipe of spices and glazing them with a maltose solution, they will be hang dried overnight in a cool room, before finally going into the oven for crispier skin.”

She says the secret lies in the way the goose is roasted and how you make the skin crispy. A good roast goose should be tender and have a balanced flavour – not too sweet, acidic or gamey. It should also own a decent layer of fat beneath the skin.

“There are many steps [to making a roast goose].” According to the Michelin Star listing, Yat Lok’s version of roast goose involves 20 preparatory steps before the bird can be charcoaled.

“After marinating the birds in a secret recipe of spices and glazing them with a maltose solution, they will be hang dried overnight in a cool room, before finally going into the oven for crispier skin.”

Historically, roast goose has always been popular in Hong Kong, as it is in the neighbouring Guangdong Province of southern China. A traditional way to roast a goose in Cantonese style is to season the meat often and cook it in a charcoal furnace at a high temperature.

Roast goose available down-under

Although barbecued roast goose is rare in Australia, it is possible to find this prized dish in some Cantonese barbecue restaurants.

Secret Kitchen in Doncaster, Victoria, has been selling roast goose, sourced from a small NSW farm for the last two years.

Restaurant manager, Kelvin Leung says because goose is not as common as duck in Australia, they only get around 100 birds a month – that’s two roast geese served per day and eight quarter-sized servings.

“Roast goose and duck are cooked the same way,” says Leung, who was born in Hong Kong. “But the big difference between a roast duck and goose is the size. Most roast ducks served at Chinese restaurants in Melbourne weight 2.1-2.3 kilograms before roasting, while a goose is about 3.1-3.3 kg. That’s why roast goose at this restaurant is served in quarters and not halves – because geese are bigger than ducks.”

Geese at the Secret Kitchen slowly roast for around 45 minutes to an hour and, just like duck, are served with plum sauce.

“In China and Hong Kong, the roast duck does not have much fat but the roast goose has a lot of fat. So when you roast a goose [Cantonese style] and the chop it up, you will see a thick layer of fat – the more fat, the more flavour.

Geese at the Secret Kitchen slowly roast for around 45 minutes to an hour and, just like duck, are served with plum sauce.

“In Melbourne, the geese we have are not as fat as the ones in Asia. However, it’s still bigger than a duck and the taste is more intense. It’s an interesting dish.”

Roast goose is only available at Secret Restaurant in Doncaster at lunch, due to a limited supply of the bird.

“I also suggest that if you want to try the roast goose when you make a booking be sure to reserve a goose. It’s very a popular dish.” 

Check out sbs.com.au/destinationflavour for recipes, videos and more! 

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