I think I got about two hours of sleep Friday night, or should I say Saturday morning- being social in London means you stay out all night talking to your friends, progress onto another venue and lo – another set of friends come along and keep you up until the wee hours of the morning with amusing antics… While you struggle to soldier on and fight off the urge to drop and sleep just about anywhere. I don’t know about you, but I find it harder and harder to stay out late… This was a piece of cake at university, and at sleepovers whilst I was at school. “Oh youthful resilience where hath thou left me??!” So on Saturday, I zombie-walked to the shops to procure some ingredients for a protein and vitamin packed bowl of Vietnamese (pan roasted) Duck soup.

Fun Fact: duck contains a very good source of iron (2.7 milligrams per 100g … that is about 15% of your RDA) and vitamin B12 (0.3 micrograms per 100g… 5% of your RDA) The iron gained from animal sources (heme iron) is said to be better absorbed by the body than plant-based sources. Whilst I am largely vegetarian,(contrary to the recent array of posts) sometimes I just have to give my body what it needs.

This recipe is a bowl of subtly flavoured comfort, mellow and warming from start to finish.

To make this to serve 2 or 3 people you will need:

2 duck legs, skin on if you prefer.

1 medium sized red onion, roughly sliced

1.5″ ginger, thickly sliced lengthwise

2-3 tbsp fish sauce (depending on the quality you may have to add more or less)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1.5 litres filtered water – very important if you live in an area where the water is hard. It can affect the taste of the stock and be quite scummy. (Ew!)

Himalayan salt and crushed black peppercorns to season

A large handful of basil leaves, keep the stalks on if you wish.

**1 chicken stock cube if you are pressed for time.

Other garnishes to keep on the side:

Spring onions

Bean sprouts

Green/red chillies, finely sliced

A wedge of lime

Some Vietnamese “chilli and plum” sauce…


In a large, heavy bottomed pan heat a small amount of oil.

Prick the duck legs and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Fry in the pan for about 6 minutes a side until they are nice and brown.


Drain off the duck fat and remove any dark solids with a bit of kitchen paper- careful not to touch the pan as it’s very hot!

Add in the onions and ginger and toss about for a bit – the duck legs have a fair bit of fat on them still, so it provides a medium to sear the onions and ginger before we make the stock. It adds a little extra flavour šŸ™‚

Now add the water, sugar, fish sauce and bring to the boil. **add in the stock cube if you want to progress things quicker. As soon as it boils, turn the heat right down and cook on a low flame for another 45-60 minutes until the meat is very tender.

In the meantime, boil up some “rice stick” noodles depending on how many you are serving and divide into bowls.

You should be left with a very richly flavoured stock and very tender meat. Shred up the meat and place on top of the noodles. Hit it with a bit of black pepper and ladle on the stock. Make sure you serve this with plenty of basil leaves. Enjoy. šŸ™‚



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