• Tea-smoked duck with tamarind and plum sauce (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

Smoking food at home can be done. I made this in a shoe-box Hong Kong apartment without the fire department investigating so give it a go. Just open windows and turn on the extractor fan!






Skill level

Average: 4 (91 votes)


For the duck

  • 1 duck (about 1.6 kg)
  • 60 g sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 185 g soft brown sugar
  • 200 g uncooked jasmine rice
  • 50 g jasmine tea leaves
  • plain four, for dusting
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry


Tamarind and plum sauce

  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 125 ml (½ cup)  hot water
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 plums, halved and seeds removed (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp hoi sin sauce (see Note)
  • 50 g light palm sugar, grated (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce


Egg noodles

  • 375 g dried or fresh thin egg noodles 
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • caster sugar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds

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.


Chilling time: 3 hours

For the duck, dry toast the peppercorns and salt for 1-2 minutes in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant being careful not to burn the peppercorns. Cool, then grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.

Remove the neck, parson’s nose, wings and any excess fat from the cavity of the duck. Rub the duck inside and out with the pepper mix and place on a plate.

Line a large wok with foil.

Make a double-layered foil basket containing the sugar, rice and tea leaves – this should be open at the top. Place the basket in the wok, then place a wire rack on top, ensuring the basket isn’t crushed. Place the duck on the plate on the wire rack.

Place the wok over high heat to start generating smoke. Once the smoke starts billowing in a steady volume, cover the wok with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium and smoke the duck for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the smoke dissipate slightly before opening the lid.

Remove everything from the wok - be careful as the smoking mixture will be very hot. Discard the smoking mixture.

Set the rack back in the wok and fill with water to just below the rack. Bring to the boil. Place the duck on a plate on the wire rack. Cover with the lid and steam for 75 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Remove the duck from the wok and allow to cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Chop the duck in half lengthways. Dust with the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep-sided large saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry each half for 4-5 minutes or until crispy. Drain on paper towel. Allow to rest for 2 minutes before chopping, Chinese style, on the bone.

Arrange the duck on a platter, spoon over the sauce and serve with the noodles on the side.

For the tamarind and plum sauce, soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squish the tamarind to release the fruity pulp. Strain to get 60 ml (1/4 cup) of tamarind water (reserve the rest for another use or discard).

Place the tamarind water and the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the plums are soft. Check the seasoning. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the egg noodles, cook the noodles according to the packet directions. Drain, refresh in iced water, then drain again. Place noodles in a bowl and toss with the sesame oil, oyster sauce and soy sauce, and caster sugar to taste. Garnish with the sesame seeds to serve.


Chef’s notes

• I prefer to use Lee Kum Kee brand of Hoi Sin sauce, available from Asian grocers.

• Palm sugar is sold in a block or in tablet form, available from most supermarkets, health food stores and Asian grocers.

• In place of plums, use any fruit in season. Mandarins, cherries, cumquats and pineapple all work well.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel


Frank Shek is the head chef at China Doll. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.

Get more recipes from China Doll here.