My Favourite Salted Vegetable and Duck Soup

This savoury Chinese (Teochew?) soup totally contradicts my quest for eating healthy…. but the Salted Vegetable and Duck Soup (咸菜鸭汤) is actually my favourite soup and the very first proper soup that I learned more than 15 years ago. It was prompted by my cultural exchange program – a 3-week stay in Hokkaido with a Japanese family. My mum and I suddenly had cravings for this soup last week and we decided to make it. The last time I had it was many months ago.

The salted vegetable is a kind of fermented vegetable made by pickling mustard green with salt. Mustard green is its original form looks like this:


This is how the vegetable looks like after all the pickling.

I typically purchase the salted vegetables from the wet markets. You can find them in the dry grocery section of most wet markets. Some may find the look and smell of the vegetable musty and unappealing.


salted vegetable (500g)

1 duck

4 tomatoes

Ginger (2 inches thick),

Big chillies (2 or more, depending on individual preference)

2 salted sour plums

3 cloves of garlic (smashed)

3 litres of water

salted plum
Oops, forgot to include the salted plums into the earlier photo.


Chop the duck into big chunks, leaving the drumsticks untouched. I typically buy the duck from the wet market and get the poultry seller to do all the hacking for me. Remove as much fat from the duck as you can.  Blanch the duck in boiling water to remove the impurities.

Soak the salted vegetables in a big bowl of water for an hour or more. This diminishes the saltiness in the vegetable. You may wish to cut the vegetable into 2 before soaking, but never change the soaking water more than twice as the vegetable may end up tasteless. After soaking, cut the vegetables into big chunks.

Cut the tomatoes into 6 parts each and chillies into long stripes. Smash the garlic and salted plum to release their flavour. Slice the ginger into pieces.

Bring the 3 litres of water to boil. Add in all the ingredients and bring to boil again. Lower the fire to simmer the soup for another 2 hours.

Before serving, you may wish to taste the soup and adjust the saltiness in the soup with either more water or more salt.

salted vegetable and duck soup

Some of my other soup recipes:

– Fish Maw Mushroom Soup

– Chayote Soup with Carrots and Black Fungus

Points to Note

Salted Vegetable

Because the salted vegetable is pickled in salt, and typically cheap table salt (definitely not sea salt), I don’t recommend drinking this soup regularly.

Duck Meat

Other than being an additional source of protein, duck meat contains selenium and zinc which help activate enzymes in the body that are needed for a healthy cellular metabolism. Selenium also aids your thyroid to function properly.  Nonetheless, duck meat is another form of red meat which I won’t want to include in my daily diet. Personally, for me, once a week suffices.


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