Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Perhaps it is a little too late for this. If you celebrated Christmas, you have probably already had your roast bird. And you regretfully marvelled at the frightening inedibility of Turkey. Why, you wonder, does anyone still eat that horrid creature? Surely it is best suited to being a Bourbon trademark?
Well, yes.

Turkey is a dry and not very exciting fowl.

Goose, on the other hand........

A fine Cantonese-style roast goose, succulent and crispy skinned. And if you've seen Hong Kong movies, you may remember scenes where working men purchased their lunches from dai pai dong and hunkered down to a scrumptious feast.
Roast goose and some veggies over a bowl of rice.
Siu ngoh fan: 燒鵝飯.

[If you don't know what I'm talking about, head over to Yee's Restaurant (文仔記燒臘茶餐廳) at 1131 Grant Avenue, between Pacific and Broadway. Don't worry, a serving of siu ngoh fan won't break the bank. Very affordable at $7.95. Ho peng, ho sik. Yee's is also a cha chanteng (茶餐廳), a "tea restaurant" - so also have a cup of Hong Kong milk-tea (yit nai cha: 热奶茶).]

Obviously, you cannot shlep the gonze mishpoche over to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner. It just isn't done.
Something very wrong with that.

But you can make Cantonese roast goose at home. And serve it with an array of other scrumptious dishes, not even leaving your kitchen a mess.
It is not difficult.


Trim -- wash -- dry -- roast.
Chop, and eat.

Purchase your fresh goose a few days in advance of dinner.  When you've got him home, trim off the excess flaps of fat at the neck and reserve, and tip the wings, as the extreme ends of these are virtually useless and will char in the oven.
Save all this for broth and extracting the delicious fat.

Remove the neck and pack of giblets from the cavity.
These can be used as you see fit (goose stock).
Place the goose in a deep pan with a rack.

Now heat a cauldron with water, soy sauce, and sugar or honey.
Proportions: for every cup of water, one to two TBS each soy sauce and sugar or honey. In HK cooks would use Maltose, but that is a bit hard to find over here.
Add whole star anise and a jigger of black vinegar if you feel like it.
Bring to a roiling boil.

Ladle this over the bird, making sure to pour it over the skin entire.
Decant the liquid from the deep pan back into the cauldron, and bring it back to boil. Repeat the procedure. This tightens the skin, which will help it become crisp. The soy sauce adds a little flavour, the sugar or honey will let it brown evenly and deeply, when one or two days hence it is being roasted.

[When doing this to fowl, I usually add a few thick slices of ginger. You may also add a handful of fresh-roasted coffee beans - the ghostly remaining hint on the bird will add a haunting and mysterious fragrance, without dominating the taste.]

There is no set number of washings with the hot liquid, but do it at least once.
You will see the skin tightening up, and three times is probably best.

When this has been done, shove the largest size funnel you have into the rear of the bird, then set it upright so that no part of the skin need touch anything, and place it in your refrigerator for a day or two to dry.
If you do not have an extra large kitchen funnel, make do -- an empty whiskey or brandy bottle will also work, as long as the outer surface of the bird is clear.

On the day when you wish to eat the beast, take it out of the refrigerator and heat the oven up to four hundred and twenty five degrees Fahrenheit (220 grades of Celsius, more or less).
Bung the bird in the oven, and roast for about an hour and three quarters.
Which is about twelve minutes per pound.

You will use a rack, of course, and rotate the bird a couple of times. For the first hour of roasting, it might be best to cover with aluminium foil to prevent excessive darkening.
If, at the end of cooking, there are parts which still look pale, it is perfectly all right to "retouch" those areas with the kitchen torch.
Assuming that you have such a thing.

Remove the bird from the oven, and let it stand for about thirty minutes.
To serve, either waste a lot of time carving it, for an American - British - European presentation, or place it on the block and chop it Chinese style, which is much more efficient, and a hell of a lot easier.
Remember, chopstickable pieces!


If you are visiting the Special Administrative Region, you will probably want to have Cantonese roast goose while you are there. It is a famous Hong Kong specialty.
Hong Kong people, like their kin across the border in Guangzhou (廣州), are keenly knowledgeable and passionate about eating, especially roast meats (siu-mei: 燒味) and superlatively fresh sea food.
A whole steamed grouper (jing sek-paan yü: 蒸石斑魚) and a lovely roast bird at your banquet are essential.

There are three great goose restaurants that come to mind.

裕記大飯店 Yue Kee Taai Fan-Diem
9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng
New Territories, Hong Kong.
新界, 深井, 深康路 9號

深井陳記燒鵝酒家 Sham-Tseng Chan Kee Siu Ngoh Jau-Ka
Ground floor, 63 Sham Tseng Village, Castle Peak Road, Sham Tseng
New Territories, Hong Kong.
新界, 深井, 青山公路, 深井村 63號, 地下

鏞記酒家 Yung Kee Jau-Ka
32-40 Wellington Street, Central
Hong Kong Island
中環, 威靈頓街 32-40 號

All three are excellent choices.  The first two are in Sham-Tseng out in the New Territories (san-kai 新界), which is reachable by public transit. Both of these are considerably more reasonably priced than the last restaurant mentioned, but Yung Kee is by far the most famous, having served princes, presidents, and potentates.


Here in San Francisco, we aren't famous for goose. Somewhat cynically, I would add that any culinary fame we have is a vast over-statement, as most restaurants have more style pretensions and higher prices than is really warranted.
Excepting, of course, our very best restaurants.
Many of which are actually Chinese.
With only a few others.

As an alternative to goose, you can also eat roast duck. Cantonese roast duck in Chinatown is a LOT cheaper than expensive canard in a snooty place that aspires to European standards.

新凱豐燒臘店 San Hoi Fung Siu-Lahp Diem
Gourmet Delight Barbecue
1045 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Note: strictly take-out.

港新寶燒腊小食 Gong San Po Siu-Lahp Siu-Sik
Kam Po (H.K.) - Kam Po Kitchen
801 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Mostly take-out, eat-in also possible.

文仔記燒臘茶餐廳 Man Chai Kee Siu-Lahp Cha Chan-Teng
Yee's Restaurant
1131 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Extensive menu, excellent roast meats.
Table seating suitable for large groups, couples, and single people. They have what your heart desires. Sit down and eat.

Final note, for anyone cooking goose or duck at home: avoid overmuch use of garlic; it makes fatty birds taste salami-like. A fine thing in its own way, but it really ruins the goose or duck.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


e-kvetcher said...

Chinese food, wow

The back of the hill said...

Quote: "The combination is known to cause a numbing sensation when consumed."

For a second there I read "dumbing sensation". Appropriate, given the tendency to prove one's machismo by overdoing the chilies.

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