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Feb 12, 2001 11:09 PM

Cantonese Pressed Duck

  • j

I recall this lovely concoction of shredded duck and waterchestnut flour (deep fried) being served in many restaurants back in the (do I dare) 70s. Can't find it in Cantonese restaurants anymore. I tried a couple of recipes from the web and the results were pretty bad. Plus it takes a lot of time. Anyone out there with a good recipe? Thanks in advance.

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  1. i vaguely remember eating this treat when i was young at either the "coral reef restaurant" in the ala moana shopping center or "hung kung restaurant" in kaimuki town (both long gone). i remember it as delicious!

    i found this recipe (haven't tried it) while searching for another recipe. please try it and let us know if it's good.

    Pressed Duck with Sweet and Sour Plum Sauce
    Ingredients (6 servings)
    5 lb Long Island duck, cleaned
    1 tb Chinese five-spice powder
    1 ts Salt
    1 c Water chestnut powder
    Boiling water
    Sweet and sour plum sauce
    Oil for deep frying
    Crushed toasted almonds

    Place duck in large kettle or Dutch oven with enough boiling water to cover. Add spices and salt and simmer covered until tender, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove duck from liquid and let cool. Remove meat from bones and discard skin. Pour chestnut powder into small baking pan (an 8-inch aluminum pan works well; powder should be 1/2 to 1/4 inch deep). Press meat into powder. Cover and steam 30 minutes, or until powder has gelatinized into thick, heavy crust. Remove from steamer and let cool. Cover and chill until ready to complete. About 30 minutes before serving time, prepare sweet and sour plum sauce; set aside and keep warm. Warm a serving platter in low oven. Preheat oil in deep fryer to 375 F. Slice duck into bite-size chunks and fry quickly in batches until crisp and browned. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until cooking is completed. Serve immediately with sweet and sour plum sauce topped with nuts. From Bon Appetit's "Oriental Favorites."

    2 Replies
    1. re: nancy

      Thanks Kit & nancy. Appreciate the input. I'm sure that the reason it isn't served in restaurants anymore is the amount of labor involved. When I have the time, I'll give it a try. I'll also see what I can do about locating some of those older recipes.

      1. re: nancy

        God bless you, Nancy, I have been looking for this recipe for DECADES. Ever since Moy's Tea Garden in Champaign, Illinois closed years ago. Does anyone know where this dish can be found in the Chicago or Indianapolis area?

      2. Oh, how my mouth watered remembering the pressed duck we used to eat at Don the Beachcomber's in Hollywood, CA in the 50's, 60's & 70's. I wish some restaurant would serve it now.
        I found 3 recipes for this dish and they sound very time consuming. One is from "Madame Wu's Art of Chinese Cooking" (1973); another from "Madame Chu's Chinese Cooking School" (1975) and from Johnny Kan's "Eight Immortal Flavors" (1963). In Chinese it's called "Wo Siew Opp" and is served with a sweet and sour sauce made with vinegar, catsup, soy sauce, sugar, salt & Tobasco.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kit H.


          You mean the mandolin style ducks hanging in the front window of Sun Wah? Those are good, but nothing like the crisp, starchy, greasy goodness that Ron is describing.

          I have not thought of pressed duck in years, though, as they say in Texas, Ron has 'done flung a craving' on me. I especially have a taste for the wilted iceberg lettuce that is invariably served underneath the pressed duck.

          Offhand I do not know of anyplace that serves pressed duck, Hi Howe on Cicero did, but they went out of business a few months ago. I am fairly certain my grandmothers favorite place in Milwaukee still has it on the menu, but itÂ’s too late to call and find out, though there must be, as Mike G said, a place or three serving pressed duck in Chicago.

          I wonder if Orange Garden on Irving Park has pressed duck, they certainly seem to be stuck in the proper time warp.


          1. re: Kit H.

            I am trying to get PHOEBE BEACH (dons wife ) email to
            request duck mandarin recipe . (last time i had it

            1. re: BERNIE

              Yes, Virginia, there is a pressed duck. It's hiding in the desert at Golden Dragon (I think that's the name) in Palm Springs at the Rimrock Shopping Center. The best Chinese in the desert, and the best wine cellar, too. Nice, private place. They have both sauces. Since I don't know where you all are from, I can't tell if this is close enough.

              I do go into withdrawal for this, my favorite Chinese dish, ahead of how gar, and wonder if anyone knows a place in the San Gabriel Valley (Pasadena-Monterey Park) where it exists. At the Kwon Bros-Grand Star in Chinatown, they only are open for big parties now, but they have it. I am still looking. One lady down the street here in Pasadena will only make it for $100 orders. No wonder there's a recession. Michaelangelo's apprentice would rather do countertops.

              If anybody finds some, let me know.


          2. r
            Roman J Fedorka

            Just looking around 'Fedorka' web sites, found it interesting that my wife is Chinese and likes pressed duck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Roman J Fedorka

              Its so funny that 2 years after the original post that its still difficult to find anyone who makes pressed duck...I did find the recipe from and its the same one that someone sent you from Bon Appetit!

            2. I too searched for a authentic recipe for the pressed duck I grew up with. In Los angeles, there was a restraunt in litle tokyo [of all places] It was a standard and a great part of the history of Los Angeles. The Name was and will soon be again The Far East Cafe. I was closed after the sylmar earthquake. The old employees are not around anymore but one cousin is the only one of the old chinese cooks who did the best Pressed duck I've ever eaten. I finally found a recipe for this wonderful duck dish [after searching for years......I will be trying it out in another week or so. I'm finnishing my externship at a restraunt [not chinese] in San Francisco but still love chinese........I found the recipe in Ken Hom's book Ken Hom's chinese kitchen 1994 Taurom Inc. first published in great britin by pavilion books limited. pg. 142.The recipe reads like what I've heard from the old cooks.......and a servver at a restraunt in Gardena calif who makes it as close to the way my family and most of the los Angelenes.........

              1. Your conversation about how to make waterchestnut coated pressed duck appeared when I tried to look a recipe up on line. Like Nancy, to whom thanks for the recipe, I remember it from the Ala Moana shopping center in the 60s - from a little take out place called Patti's Kitchen! They used to put the crushed almonds into the waterchestnut powder, so they got deep fried along with the duck. Yummy!