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Cooking Your Sea Duck

The Fishy Duck

Diet flavors are in the fat, and can be largely eliminated by a combination of removing the fat, a flavor-aid treatment, and cooking in moist heat with seasonings.


  1. Place a whole carrot and onion in cavity of aged duck. Cover with water and parboil for 10 minutes. Discard carrot, onion and liquid. This is good for a fat duck as it also removes some of the fish-flavor-laden intermuscular fat.
  2. Skin the bird. Carefully scrape away all surface fat possible. Treat while ageing by one of the following:
    a. For each 12 hours of ageing, place a whole peeled onion and a quartered lemon in the cavity of the duck - discard, replace with fresh onion and lemon, discard, turning the bird each time. Keep bird covered. Wipe inside of duck with a cloth squeezed in vinegar or lemon juice.
    b. Soak the bird overnight immersed in a deep bowl of tomato juice; keep covered in refrigerator. This is both a flavor aid and, tenderizer. Duck may be split and cut first. There are, or course, degrees of fishiness.

The tender young duck with but a trace of fish flavor should respond to treatment without skinning and scraping away fat. It may then be roasted covered or cooked in moist heat with adequate seasonings.
If the duck is extremely fishy, use only the breasts. Skin, trim all fat and soak or parboil in tomato juice. Cook in casserole with plenty of seasoning. (Mergansers, in an emergency, have been made palatable by this method.)

The above treatments are meant to eliminate or subdue the flavor of fish in ducks.

They will not save wildfowl that has spoiled through careless handling in the field or en route to the kitchen.

Lengthy freezer storage is not recommended for the very fishy duck.

Cooking Game Table Duck

Methods and recipes are for properly field-dressed and cared-for birds.
Any mild astringent tenderizing marinade may be used. This may be a mixture of vinegar or wine in water, with oil and a bit of sugar added, and a few delicate seasonings or spices to taste.
The highly seasoned marinades are suggested for the fishy duck where flavor aid is the consideration.
The use of moisture-drawing salt in a marinade is best avoided. However, where there has been shot damage, often a bit of salt is necessary to help draw clotted blood from the meat.
Avoid the direct use of salt in the cooking, especially in dry heat - it can always be added to taste at the table.

Wild ducks, especially during hunting season, are rarely so fat that they do not require some larding. (In this respect they differ from their domestic cousins.) During migratory flights they burn up fat at a tre-
mendous rate; dependent on the fare en route, wild ducks often become too thin to be succulent.

Excerpt from "Canadian Game Cookery" by Frances MacIlquham