According to my grandma, this dish was inspired by the Teochew braised duck. While the Teochew braised duck uses lots of spices to flavour the duck, this version focus on braising the duck in black sauce and coriander. The end result is an aromatic duck with thick sweet sour black sauce that can be eaten as a snack or as a main dish at the table. This dish is best prepared 1 day ahead for a better taste.

Serving portion : 1 serving enough for 4-6 persons
The approach is to group all the ingredients to facilitate easier preparation.

Half Duck (900-1000g)
2 tsp Salt
1.5 tbsp Ground Coriander (Powder)
1.5 tbsp Raw Sugar
1.5 tbsp Dark Soya Sauce
3/4 tsp Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Salt (optional)
100 g Assam Paste (Tamarind)
500 ml Water
120 g Shallots
3 tbsp Oil
1pc Cinnamon stick
4pcs Cloves
Bunch of Coriander leaves (Garnish)

Itek Sio Ingredients


  • Drainer big enough to hold duck
  • 1 big bowl to marinate duck
  • 1 small bowl to soak assam paste
  • Measuring spoon
  • Wok with cover

1. Remove excess fat, wash duck and rub the salt all over the duck. Set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Wash off the salt and set on rack for 30mins to drip dry or alternatively you can use paper towels or kitchen towels to dry duck.
4. Mix Coriander powder, black soya sauce, sugar and black pepper into the big bowl and mix thoroughly. This will be used to marinate the duck. Salt is optional and can be used later when cooking the duck.
5. Once duck (A) is dry, put the duck into the bowl and rub the marinate all over the duck.
6. Once done, leave duck (A) with marinate aside for at least 3-4 hours or if more flavour is desired, marinate overnight in the fridge covering the bowl with cling wrap.
7. Add assam paste to water in a bowl and soak for 1 hour to soften the paste.
8. Once soft, rub the assam paste in water to extract assam juice. Discard seed and set aside.
9. Slice shallots and set aside.
10. Measure all the required ingredients and set aside.
11. Wash coriander and remove roots, leave to drain dry.


  1. Heat oil from (E) in wok on medium heat, add shallots (C)., constantly stir until golden brown.
  2. Add duck (A) including all the sauces in the marinating bowl to the wok and brown the skin of the duck in low to medium heat, about 10-15mins.
  3. Add cinnamon and clove from (E) and assam juice (B).
  4. Bring this to a gentle boil, cover the wok and lower the heat.
  5. Cook for 45mins and turn the duck every 15mins scooping the gravy onto the duck and ensuring it does not burn nor the gravy dries up. You may add the optional salt from (E) after tasting the gravy. Once done gravy should be thick and glossy.
  6. Cool the duck before chopping duck up and served with the thick gravy.
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Emily’s Tips

  • Never chop the duck up as it dries up the meat. At the very least it has to be half of about 700-800g.
  • You can choose to dry the duck with towels and not drip dry. The key purpose is to marinate duck without diluting the taste.
  • You can choose to use white sugar but reduce the quantity to only ¾ tablespoons instead.
  • You can replace the shallots with small red onions although shallots has more flavour.
  • Preferably, use shallots from Indonesia or India.
  • Instead of using a wok, you may use pressure cooker,  which shortens the cooking time to 25mins. Once cooked, switch off the heat/fire and let the duck sit in the pressure cooker until all the pressure is released. It is estimated to take about 1 to 1.5 hours to cook.
  • Try this and adjust the sourness and sweetness according to your liking. For best result, it is recommended that you use top quality dark soya sauce.