• Steamed duck, winter melon and shiitake mushroom soup (Ben Ward)Source: Ben Ward

Winter melon (actually in season spring-summer) has a mild taste that absorbs the flavour of this deeply aromatic broth. Add into the mix earthy shiitake mushrooms and duck, and you have one soothing, aromatic concoction.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 4 duck leg marylands, cut into thigh and drumstick pieces
  • 1 small winter melon, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Thai pickled lime, halved
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained and stems discarded
  • garlic chives, cut into 3 cm lengths, ginger cut into julienne and thinly sliced spring onions, to garnish

Soup stock

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
  • 4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 8 white peppercorns
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 100 ml canola oil
  • 100 ml Chinese cooking wine
  • 60 g rock sugar, pounded
  • 150 ml oyster sauce
  • 100 ml light yellow bean soy sauce
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. For the soup stock, pound the garlic, coriander roots, ginger, peppercorns and onion in a mortar and pestle until a paste forms. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the paste and fry for 5-6 minutes or until it smells crisp and nutty. Drain off the excess oil. Pour in the Chinese cooking wine and boil, stirring for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Stir in the rock candy, oyster sauce and yellow bean soy sauce, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the top. Strain the stock, discard the solids and keep warm.

2. Set a large steamer over boiling water. Place the duck pieces, winter melon, pickled lime and mushrooms in a large heatproof bowl that will fit inside the steamer. Put the bowl in the steamer, then pour in the strained stock to come almost to the top of the bowl. Cover with a layer of baking paper, then with foil and seal tightly. Steam for 1.5 hours, checking the steamer's water level throughout, and adding extra boiling water as necessary. Remove the bowl from the steamer. Check that the duck is cooked through – the meat should fall off the bone – and the winter melon is almost translucent. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

3. To serve, ladle the soup stock, duck, winter melon and mushrooms into deep soup bowls. Top each with the garlic chives, ginger and spring onion to garnish. Serve hot.


Palisa Anderson and guests explore food memories and cross-cultural connection during Palisa Anderson's Water Heart Food.