Thin rice noodle are served with flavorful broth made of Chinese herbs and topped with pulled duck meat.
Duck noodle with herb soup or known as ak bihun at our home town where I grew up, Medan, Indonesia, was something I haven’t had for the longest time ever. Ask any Medanese and they will know what ak bihun is. It is a favorite street food for the local for sure, that includes me. What determines a good ak bihun is the soup itself, which is brewed from duck and several Chinese herbs.
If you ask me, Dong Quay, gives the most distinct flavor to the soup. Without this herb, the soup just doesn’t give the same flavor. The commonly used noodle is rice noodle or bee hoon, but other suitable type of noodle can be flat rice noodles or mee sua. The noodle is then served with the shredded duck meat and some offal (if using) and garlic crisp. Such simplicity can bring so much joy into my life. Ask my husband how he likes this ak bihun and he will tell you “It’s a nuclear-bomb-kinda good”. My daughter even licked her bowl cleaned if that doesn’t convinced you enough haha!!
- 2 lbs of duck with bones and cut into 2-3 large pieces
- 1 lb of rice noodles /bee hoon or you can also use flat rice noodles or mee sua
- Duck's gizzard and liver optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bulbs of garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of oil
Dried Chinese herbs:
- 3 pieces of 2-3 inch Dong Quay
- 1/4 cup of Wolf berry / Goji berry / 枸杞子
- 2 pieces of Milk Vetch root / Astralagus / 黃芪
- 2 pieces of Dang Shen root / Codonopsis / 黨參
- 1 handful of Solomon's seal / Yu Zhu / 玉竹
- Small bunch of cilantro leaves
- Rinse all the dried Chinese herbs with water and set aside
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel some of the skin off from the duck (this is to prevent the broth being super oily), but leave some to add flavor to the broth. Submerge the duck into the water and blanch for about 5 minutes. Discard water and rinse with cold water and rinse the pot clean
- Place the duck into the pot and fill up with water, covering about 2 inches above the duck. Bring to a boil and then add in all the Chinese herbs. Lower the heat and cover with a lid and let it gently cook for the next 2 to 2 1/2 hours. The meat will literally fell off the bones. Have a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. The soup shouldn't be greasy, but does have a little bit of oil from the skin of the duck. Cook the gizzard and liver in a small pot of boiling water. Liver will not take long to cook, but the gizzard may take about 30 minutes or longer to soften. Set aside
Preparing the garlic crisp:
- Preheat oil in a medium size pan. Add in the chopped garlic and lower the heat to low to medium. If the garlic get browned too fast, remove from the heat and then place it back on top of the heat again. Control the heat as you don't want to burn them. They should be golden brown and crispy
When ready to serve:
- Cook the noodles according to direction and portion into individual serving bowl. Carefully lift the duck out of the pot and place on a plate. You can discard the rest of the Chinese herbs but left the wolf berry in the soup. When cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the duck and shred it. Discard the bones
- Bring the soup back to a rolling boil. Portion the shredded duck meat, gizzard, and liver into each bowl. Ladle generous amount of hot soup with some wolfberry over the noodle. Top with garlic crisp and a little bit of the oil and garnish with some cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.