Sour Plum Duck, A Hakka Chinese Classic
Prep time
Cook time
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Chinese Sour Plum duck may be the origin of the duck sauce served by all Chinese restaurants. Try this Hakka Chinese classic sour plum duck and you will be amazed how delicious it is!
Recipe type: Chicken and Poultry
Cuisine: CHinese
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 whole duck, about 5 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 6 salted plums (Koon Chun Brand)
  • 1½ cups plum sauce (Koon Chun Brand)
  • 1½ cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 pieces dried orange or tangerine peel
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  1. Remove the giblet packet from the duck, rinse both the inside and outside of the duck thoroughly, and let the water drain out. You can discard the giblets or place them in the pot with the duck if you like. Pat the duck dry with a paper towel. Combine the salt, white pepper, and ginger in a small bowl, and rub the spice mix evenly all over the duck, both outside and inside the cavity. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat 1½ tablespoons canola oil in a large Dutch oven (or other oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sear the duck on both sides until lightly browned and transfer the duck to a plate. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add the garlic, shallots, and onions to the pot where you seared the duck. Fry for 3-5 minutes, until softened.
  3. Use your hands or a fork to smash the salted plums, and add them to the pot. The plums should be pitted, but it is also okay to just add the pits and pick them out before serving. Also stir in the plum sauce, chicken stock, dried citrus peels, and vinegar. Mix well over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon one cup of the onion mixture into the duck cavity, using a spoon to coat the inside of the duck as best as possible. Spread some of the sauce over the outside of the duck so it is lightly coated. With the onion mixture that's left in the pot, spread it out evenly across the bottom of the pot and carefully place the duck on top (breast side down). Cover the pot and place into the preheated oven for 60 minutes.
  5. Take the pot out of the oven, and using a large roasting fork, carefully lift the duck up to dump the onions and liquid out of the cavity. Then carefully flip the duck so the breast is facing up. There should still be plenty of liquid at the bottom of the pan, but feel free to add a bit of chicken stock if it's looking dry.
  6. Cover and return to the oven for another 30 to 60 minutes depending upon how tender you like your duck. Check the duck after 30 minutes for tenderness and add more stock if the sauce is drying out. Once you are satisfied with the tenderness, cook for another 15 minutes uncovered. Again, if there is no sauce, add in more chicken stock. Transfer the pot from the oven to the stovetop, and carefully transfer the duck to a serving plate or cutting board for carving.
  7. Stir the sauce, discarding the tangerine peels and plum pits. If all went well, the sauce should have turned into a beautiful onion marmalade. Reduce the sauce over the stovetop if it is too thin, or add chicken stock to deglaze if the sauce is too dry.
  8. Spoon some of the sauce and onions over the top of the duck, and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
Recipe by The Woks of Life at