Wednesday, March 28, 2012

At The Family Duck Farm - Mongkol Borei, Cambodia

Duck, Duck and No Goose

I really wanted to kill a chicken or duck.  I’m not really sure why, but as an avid meat eater, I felt it was my responsibility to experience the process it took to bring a hunk a meat to my kitchen table. When the opportunity presented itself, I knew this was my chance to come face to face, mano y mano with one of my favorite foods and kill a feathered foul.  I must admit, when I agreed to do it, I only had one fear. I feared that I would get so traumatized by the gore that I would never want to eat fried chicken again.  The thought of losing my love of breaded chicken skin really spooked me. But, if I were to do this, what better place than the family duck farm.

Fish eggs for a salty omelet

The good news is, after the deed was done, I still loved me some poultry.  In fact (this may sound a bit morbid), my love for fouls intensified after the whole affair.  I won’t go into details about how I did it (slashed the throat, making sure to reserve each drop of blood for a savory soup) or how I defeathered the bird (apparently, you have to dip the bird in boiling hot water for easy removal of feathers). But as the bird’s eyeballs rolled up to the heavens for the final time, it looked as if the animal said “Good bye, my worthy opponent. I hope my tasty meat gives you pleasure.” 

Of course, it was then that I HAD to make sure that we honored its death with a proper delicious meal.  Lucky for me, since I’ve already experienced my relatives’ cooking for a solid month now, a proper delicious meal was inevitable.   The menu included, my cousin Mayne’s succulent whole chicken including the organs (as a lover innards, this was a special treat) roasted on a bed of banana blossom leaves (we ate a version of this at a restaurant outside of Phnom Pehn, he stated that it was okay if you’ve never had real chicken), balut eggs (fertilized duck embryo boiled alive and eaten in the shell) with a delicious lime pepper sauce, coca cola garlic glazed whole duck (plus innards),   fish eggs omelet served with a spread of crunchy crudités, and Cambodian Hot Pot.
You know how at every dinner party someone always ask “what would you eat as your last meal?”.   After that day, I felt like I got to experience every item on my “last meal” list.  With every chicken bone I got to gnaw on and every balut egg I slurped, I remember saying to myself “god, I am ready to visit your pearly gates”. Yes, the ingredients on paper were humble and the preparation was rustic, but the spice of soul permeated through each dish and created a flavor profile you can only find in the middle of some mapless village in Cambodia.   As I sat at my uncle’s wobbly hand me down table looking over what I’ve eaten and what I have yet to consume with my grandfather’s rice paddy as a backdrop, I knew if I did have to go to the electric chair for some absurd crime I’ve committed, at least my belly would have died a happy camper.    
All the fixins for a scrump duck embryo
Cola Glazed Sticky Wings

Sticky, spicy and sweet
I know that cola braised poultry is typically done in Chinese cooking, but since I discovered this technique on my family's duck farm in Cambodia, I'm gonna call it a Khmer dish (with my own person spin, of course). :)

12 wings

1 can of cola (regular, not diet)
2 tablespoon of grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 inch knob of ginger
2 tbls of sambal sauce
2 tbls of soy sauce
2 tbls of oyster sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar


1.  Heat oil in very hot pan

2.  Once oil is hot, brown wings

3.  Remove wings, drain oil and wipe pan dry

4.  Add cola, sliced garlic, sliced ginger, sambal sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and brown sugar

5.  Wait until cola mixture is boiling and has thicken

6.  Add wings, turning frequently. Will burn easily.

7.  Once wings are cooked, in a separate oiled and heated pan, sear wings again to get a nice char. Set aside.

8.  Keep the sauce on heat, until desired thickness

9.  Toss wings with sauce, serve immediately.


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