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Pet Pha Lo (Stewed Duck) with Chile Dipping Sauce

By Andy Ricker From Moveable Feast Season 1, Ep.13
Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 1 cup of sauce

Servings: 4

Thai soy sauces have a flavor that’s distinct from Chinese or Japanese sauces, and are an important element in this slow-cooked duck dish. Chef Ricker uses both thin or “white” soy sauce, which is light and transparent, and the thicker, stronger black variety.


For the pet pha lo

  • 1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup Thai thin white soy sauce
  • Scant 1/3 cup Thai black soy sauce
  • 2 oz. rock sugar or granulated sugar (scant 1/3 cup)
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, bottoms and top 4 inches trimmed, outer layers discarded, and smashed with side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 stalk celery, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 oz. ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. cilantro stems, smashed with side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 1 1-1/2-inch piece cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 lb. duck legs (about 4), skin removed; rinsed in cold water

For the chile dipping sauce

  • 3 oz. mild fresh yellow chiles, such as Fresnos, gueros, or Hungarian wax peppers, seeded and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp. thinly sliced cilantro stems
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar


Make the pet pha lo

  • Put the shiitakes in a medium heatproof bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Soak until very soft, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a 5-1/2- to 6-quart pot. Slowly pour the soaking liquid through a fine sieve into the pot leaving any silt in the bowl.
  • Add 5 cups water, both soy sauces, the sugar, lemongrass, celery, ginger, cilantro, peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaves to the pot and stir to blend. Add the duck legs and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook until the meat comes off the bone very easily with a tug of tongs but isn’t dry or falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

Make the chile dipping sauce

  • Have ready a medium bowl of ice and water. Bring a 3-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chiles and cook just until they have lost their raw texture and flavor, about 45 seconds. Drain, transfer to the ice water to cool completely, and drain again.
  • Pound the cilantro stems and 1-1/2 tsp. salt in a mortar and pestle to a coarse paste, about 15 seconds. Add the garlic and pound until blended, and then add the chiles and pound until you have a coarse paste, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. (Alternatively, you can make the sauce in a food processor.) Transfer the sauce to a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Remove the duck legs from the pot. Reserve the cooking liquid, if desired, for another use. Serve the duck legs with the dipping sauce.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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