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Monday, December 12, 2011

Korea Roundup 2011: Ginkgo Tree House Serves Up Amazing Stuffed Duck

I'm usually not a huge fan of duck, but this was no ordinary duck. It was stuffed with all sorts of goodies like pumpkin seeds, ginkgo nuts, chestnuts, pine nuts and sticky rice and black rice. It was none other than the Ginkgo Tree House (은행나무집), which specializes in this kind of stuffed duck.

The duck had to be pre-ordered as it is slow cooked for at least three hours. It's cooked in an oven until the skin is crisp on the outside and the rice inside is fully cooked. It makes for an amazing presentation at the table. 1) Crispy duck, 2) Piping hot stuffing is revealed as the duck is cut open and 3) the best part -- get thee some duck meat and stuffing on your plate and dig in!
The duck was juicy and tender and the sticky rice and nuts stuffing was chewy, crunchy and masked the gaminess of the bird very well. The strong aromas of the different nuts blended perfectly to make a great side to the star of the meal.

Again, this is unusual for me because I've never been a stuffing-kind of person, at least for the traditional American turkey meal. 

You could dip the meat in a salt and pepper mix or a tangy and sweet Korean mustard-based sauce. I alternated between the two and before I knew it, my companion and I had devoured the entire duck!

Highlights of the banchan, or side dishes, were the buchu (remember I raved about it a few posts ago?) seasoned in some sesame oil (not the strong stuff but there's a milder one deulgireum, or wild sesame oil/들기름 ), sesame seeds and some gochugaru, or red pepper flakes.

The other fave was the radish. They're called daikon radish in the US but these are actually chubbier and shorter than the longer daikon variety so I'm just going to go with Korean radish. They were cut into thin rectangular blocks and pickled with some rice vinegar. They were very refreshing as an antidote to the very fatty and rich duck.

 This was the buchu banchan.
 Neatly stacked and refreshing (Korean!) radishes.
Why we felt like barbarians at the end of the meal.

Other menu items include a duck version of samgyetang, the young chicken soup that comes stuffed with ginseng, dried jujubes, etc and is usually consumed in the summer as a way to replenish one's energy in extremely hot and humid weather. It also offers duck bossam, which is usually a pork belly dish that comes with steamed nappa cabbage and other greens and kimchi as well as spicy raw squid meant to be eaten as wraps. Even though it sounds like ttuk bossam, it's vastly different in that ttuk bossam refers to thinly sliced ribeye meat slices grilled table side and wrapped in thin rice paper sheets with the works that come with Korean barbecue.

Ginkgo Tree House (은행나무집) -- Hannam Location
(02) 792-3851

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