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Camphor - where to get it


jhirshon
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All - this thread I started in the Indian forum has bearing for the Chinese as well:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=80497

Camphor-smoked duck requires - unsurprisingly - camphor wood shavings which are completely unavailable in the States (and not all that easy to find, even in Asia!). Every recipe for it calls for a different blend of smoking materials, all of which lack the essential camphor flavour that makes this recipe what it is.

We have had no other choice - until now. :smile:

I think I've come up with a creative solution to this problem - in some Indian grocers, you can purchase Camphor crystals, which are incredibly pungent and completely edible. They steam the aromatic oils out of the Camphor wood, then crystallize it to form (in Hindi) Paccha Karpoora.

Grinding some of these crystals over smoking materials of Jasmine tea, lapsang souchong tea, and oak before smoking should enable a totally authentic Szechuan Camphor-roast duck - probably for the first time ever in the US. :cool:

I for one plan to attempt this at the earliest possible opportunity - failing that, if some enterprising eGulleteer has access to these crystals and wants to try it before me, by all means do so (as long as I am immortalized forever as the man who enabled the true recipe to be experienced by the gweilo of the world.) :biggrin:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES buy 'Camphor' at a drug store or ANYWHERE outside an Indian grocery to use in a recipe - this is synthetic camphor and is NOT EDIBLE.

My personal recipe for Szechuan Camphor-smoked duck, if anyone wants to try it:

The Hirshon Szechuan Camphor-smoked Duck

4 slices fresh ginger, pureed in a food processor

3 ts Salt

1 ts Szechuan peppercorns, ground to a powder

1 Star anise, ground to a powder

1 ts Saltpeter (available at pharmacies)

2 tbs sesame oil (preferred) or peanut oil

1 4 to 5 lb. duckling

4 tbs oak sawdust (or use chips, if unavailable)

2 tbs lapsang souchong tea leaves

2 tbs Jasmine tea leaves

1 lg. crystal of edible camphor (finely ground to make 1/2 teaspoon)

3 tbs sugar

8 c Peanut oil for frying

24 2" sections green onion

Dipping Sauce:

4 ts Peanut Oil

2 ts Sweet bean paste (tan min chun)

2 ts Sugar

2 ts Water

Heat pan and stir-fry salt over medium heat until lightly brown. Add peppercorns, ginger, anise and saltpeter; stir-fry until fragrant. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. Set aside half of the mixture and rub the interior and exterior of duckling thoroughly with it, reserving the rest. Allow duck to sit overnight in the fridge. Combine the remaining seasonings with the sesame or peanut oil and massage into the duck.

Place the duck on a wire rack in a preheated moderate oven at about 400 deg (put a drip-pan underneath) and roast for 1 hour.

For smoking, light a charcoal fire. When the charcoal is glowing red, but not blazing, sprinkle half the tea, camphor powder, sugar and sawdust (or chips, if sawdust is unavailable) over the fire. Place the duck on a wire rack and suspend it a couple of inches above the fire.

Invert a tin or wok cover over the duck and fire and let smoke for 10 minutes.

Turn the duck over for a further 10 minute smoking, sprinkling the rest of the smoking mixture on the fire (poke and stir as needed to get a good smoke going) before turning it.

Remove the duck, brush it with 2 tbs more of sesame oil and heat oil for deep-frying to 380 F in a large wok. Fry duckling 8 min. or until skin is crispy, ladling oil over the duck constantly and turning as needed. Remove and drain. Cut into bite-size pieces and serve with Dipping Sauce & green onions.

Directions for Dipping Sauce: Heat oil. Stir-fry all ingredients until boiling.

Edited by jhirshon (log)
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My personal recipe for Szechuan Camphor-smoked duck, if anyone wants to try it:

The Hirshon Szechuan Camphor-smoked Duck

4 slices fresh ginger, pureed in a food processor

3 ts Salt

1 ts Szechuan peppercorns, ground to a powder

1 Star anise, ground to a powder

1 ts Saltpeter (available at pharmacies)

2 tbs sesame oil (preferred) or peanut oil

1 4 to 5 lb. duckling

4 tbs oak sawdust (or use chips, if unavailable)

2 tbs lapsang souchong tea leaves

2 tbs Jasmine tea leaves

1 lg. crystal of edible camphor (finely ground to make 1/2 teaspoon)

3 tbs sugar

8 c Peanut oil for frying

24 2" sections green onion

Dipping Sauce:

4 ts Peanut Oil

2 ts Sweet bean paste (tan min chun)

2 ts Sugar

2 ts Water

So great!!

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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My personal recipe for Szechuan Camphor-smoked duck, if anyone wants to try it:

The Hirshon Szechuan Camphor-smoked Duck

[...]

I am confused. Whose recipe is this? The 2 recipes looked identical.

Qing: were you trying to comment on JH's recipe?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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All - this thread I started in the Indian forum has bearing for the Chinese as well:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=80497

Camphor-smoked duck requires - unsurprisingly - camphor wood shavings which are completely unavailable in the States (and not all that easy to find, even in Asia!).  Every recipe for it calls for a different blend of smoking materials, all of which lack the essential camphor flavour that makes this recipe what it is.

We have had no other choice - until now.  :smile:

Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US. Provided that that your local climate will support the tree and that space is available it should be easy to grow your own camphor. In California, camphor trees are often planted by cities for shade.

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Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US.  Provided that that your local climate will support the tree and that space is available it should be easy to grow your own camphor.  In California, camphor trees are often planted by cities for shade.

A lot of people don't like them, though.

They seed copiously, sucker freely, drop a lot of leaves and bark, and are nearly impossible to kill.

Reminds me of Totoro, though.

:smile:

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US.  [...]

Sure. I have a camphor tree right outside my bedroom! :biggrin:

I kind of like the smell. But these trees are surely very messy. They don't shed in the winter. But when the fruits (??) fall down, it is hard to clean up.

I have been thinking: hey if I want to make smoke tea duck, I just need to peel off some really old barks from the trunk and use them to make smoke! Save a trip to the Indian grocery store! :raz:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US.  [...]

Sure. I have a camphor tree right outside my bedroom! :biggrin:

I kind of like the smell. But these trees are surely very messy. They don't shed in the winter. But when the fruits (??) fall down, it is hard to clean up.

I have been thinking: hey if I want to make smoke tea duck, I just need to peel off some really old barks from the trunk and use them to make smoke! Save a trip to the Indian grocery store! :raz:

hzrt8w - if you want to follow my recipe for the camphor smoked duck, substituting camphor barkchips for the oak and leaving out the camphor crystals, go for it - i'd love to hear your report on how it worked out (I haven't had the opportunity/time to try out my own recipe yet, sadly!).

Looking forward to hearing your report (and a pictorial, hopefully) if you decide to go for it - JH

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Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US.  [...]

i'd love to hear your report on how it worked out (I haven't had the opportunity/time to try out my own recipe yet, sadly!).

Looking forward to hearing your report (and a pictorial, hopefully) if you decide to go for it - JH

Whaaat? You haven't tested your own recipe yet!? :shock::blink:

Will Ah Leung get any reward for being the guinea pig? and I don't mean just getting to eat the duck. :wink::laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Actually, camphor trees are grown for decorative purposes in the US.  [...]

i'd love to hear your report on how it worked out (I haven't had the opportunity/time to try out my own recipe yet, sadly!).

Looking forward to hearing your report (and a pictorial, hopefully) if you decide to go for it - JH

Whaaat? You haven't tested your own recipe yet!? :shock::blink:

Will Ah Leung get any reward for being the guinea pig? and I don't mean just getting to eat the duck. :wink::laugh:

I rarely need to taste test my recipes - my mental palate has always served me well. ;)

And the only satisfaction is knowing he would be the first, i suppose. :)

cheers, JH

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I rarely need to taste test my recipes - my mental palate has always served me well. ;)

Hmmmm? Are you a theoretical recipe'ist? :raz:

Theoretically speaking, may I make the following observations/suggestions for your "personal non-tested" recipe:

1. Do the smoking step before any other method of cooking so the flavour would permeat the meat. There isn't alot of meat on a duck, and if you roast it at 400 degrees for 1 hour, the smoking will have little or no effect.

2.The tea leaves for smoking: Wet them before putting them in a foil pan over the charcoal. Otherwise, they would burn up in a flash and not enough time for the smoke to permeat the meat. Wood chips, again, wet, would be a better choice than sawdust, again, the "pouff!" problem.

You may not want to "poke and stir to get a good smoke going" as there will be a cloud of ash settling over your duck! :sad:

3. From various sources, it is suggested that you steam the duck after smoking, to acquire a moist end product. If you roast it for an hour, then smoke it, then deep fry, the meat will be dry. Hang the duck to air-dry before deep frying at this point.

4. Brushing the smoked duck with sesame oil prior to deep frying would be counter-productive. We all know the wonderful flavour of sesame oil, but it's the camphor smoke flavour you are trying to achieve. I think sesame oil would muddle the desired flavour. Air-drying the steamed duck will help produce a crispy skin.

Try it this way, jhirshon, and give us your results. Perhaps you should experiment both ways with TWO ducks, and take lots of pictures! :biggrin:

My suggestions, of course, are all theoretical. :wink:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Theoretically speaking, may I make the following observations/suggestions for your "personal non-tested" recipe:

1. Do the smoking step before any other method of cooking so the flavour would permeat the meat. There isn't alot of meat on a duck, and if you  roast it at 400 degrees for 1 hour, the smoking will have little or no effect.

2.The tea leaves for smoking: Wet them before putting them in a foil pan over the charcoal. Otherwise, they would burn up in a flash and not enough time for the smoke to permeat the meat. Wood chips, again, wet, would be a better choice than sawdust, again, the "pouff!" problem.

You may not want to "poke and stir to get a good smoke going" as there will be a cloud of ash settling over your duck!  :sad:

3. From various sources, it is suggested that you steam the duck after smoking, to acquire a moist end product. If you roast it for an hour, then smoke it, then deep fry, the meat will be dry. Hang the duck to air-dry before deep frying at this point.

4. Brushing the smoked duck with sesame oil prior to deep frying would be counter-productive. We all know the wonderful flavour of sesame oil, but it's the camphor smoke flavour you are trying to achieve. I think sesame oil would muddle the desired flavour. Air-drying the steamed duck will help produce a crispy skin.

Try it this way, jhirshon, and give us your results. Perhaps you should experiment both ways with TWO ducks, and take lots of pictures! :biggrin:

My suggestions, of course, are all theoretical. :wink:

I agree, Dejah. A duck may be loaded with fat, but the meat can still be dry. Oven roasting it for an hour at 400 and especially without moisture in the oven sounds like a dry duck to me. My best ducks are when they are steamed first and then roasted or deep-fried ---- and of course smoking as a first step, in the case of Smoked Duck.

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