Ultimate Guide to Vietnamese Vịt Nấu Chao: Recipe & Serving Tips

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a bowl of Vịt Nấu Chao, a Vietnamese delicacy that tantalizes your taste buds with its unique blend of flavors. This dish, featuring braised duck in a fermented bean curd sauce, offers a perfect symphony of savory, sweet, and a hint of spice that’s unlike anything you’ve tried before. Originating from the lush landscapes of Vietnam, where food is not just nourishment but a cultural expression, Vịt Nấu Chao holds a special place in the hearts of locals and the curiosity of food lovers worldwide.


After exploring the rich cultural backdrop of Vịt Nấu Chao, let’s dive into the essentials that make up this exquisite dish. Here’s a detailed list of all the ingredients you will need, categorized for your convenience.

Main Ingredients

  • 1 whole duck (approximately 5 lbs), cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender parts only, bruised and cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups water

Sauces and Seasonings

  • 4 cubes of fermented bean curd (red variety)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Sliced scallions
  • Thinly sliced red chili (optional for extra heat)
  • Steamed rice, to serve

With these ingredients ready, you’re all set to begin cooking and bring the aromatic flavors of Vietnam right into your kitchen.

Required Equipment

Before you start cooking the aromatic Vịt Nấu Chao, make sure you have the right tools on hand. Having the specific equipment not only eases the cooking process but also helps you achieve the perfect flavors and textures that this dish is famous for. Here are the essentials you’ll need:

  • Large Dutch Oven or Clay Pot: Ideal for braising the duck, these pots help in evenly distributing the heat and retaining moisture, which is crucial for getting that tender, fall-off-the-bone texture.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: You’ll need this for efficiently cutting the duck and preparing the ingredients like garlic, lemongrass, and ginger.
  • Cutting Board: Opt for a large one, so you have plenty of room to work.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: These are essential for accurately measuring out the seasonings and sauces, ensuring that the dish’s flavor is perfectly balanced.
  • Mixing Bowls: Have a few on hand for mixing the marinade and preparing the seasoning mix.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: This will be used for stirring the ingredients in the pot, preventing them from sticking to the bottom.
  • Serving Platter: For presenting the Vịt Nấu Chao, choose a beautiful platter that complements the richness of the dish.

Preparation Steps

Venture into the process of making Vịt Nấu Chao using the tools previously described. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create this delicious Vietnamese dish.

Cleaning the Duck

  1. Start by placing your fresh duck on a clean cutting board.
  2. Remove any remaining feathers and innards, ensuring that the cavity is thoroughly cleaned.
  3. Rinse the duck under cold running water to wash away any blood or residue.
  4. Pat the duck dry with paper towels to eliminate excess moisture which helps in better absorption of flavors.
  1. Gather your measured broth ingredients – ginger, garlic, and shallots.
  2. Peel the ginger and slice it into thin strips to maximize its aromatic contribution to the broth.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves lightly with the flat side of your knife, which helps in releasing its essential oils.
  4. Chop the shallots finely; they will break down in the broth, adding sweetness and depth.
  5. Set these prepared ingredients aside as they will soon be simmered with the duck to infuse the dish with its distinct flavors.

Cooking Instructions

Here, you’ll learn how to combine the prepared ingredients and cook your Vịt Nấu Chao to perfection.

Cooking the Duck

  1. Begin by placing your thoroughly cleaned duck into a large pot. Pour in enough water to completely cover the duck. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add the pre-prepared ginger, garlic, and shallots into the pot. These ingredients will start to infuse the duck with their rich flavors as they cook together.
  3. Incorporate a few pieces of star anise and a cinnamon stick to the broth to enhance the fragrance and depth of flavor.
  4. Allow the duck to simmer gently for about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this time, regularly skim off any foam that forms on the surface to ensure a clear broth.
  5. After the duck has cooked through and is tender, remove it from the pot and set it aside to rest. This will make the meat easier to handle and carve while you prepare the sauce.
  1. In a small bowl, mash the fermented bean curd until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mashed bean curd into a separate pan over medium heat. Gradually add about a cup of the broth from the duck pot, stirring constantly to integrate the bean curd into the liquid smoothly.
  3. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens slightly into a rich, creamy sauce. This usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt or additional mashed bean curd, depending on your preference for saltiness and intensity of flavor.
  5. Once the sauce is done, slice the rested duck into serving portions.
  6. Arrange the sliced duck on a serving platter and generously spoon the warm Chao sauce over the duck pieces.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or green onions to add a fresh burst of color and flavor just before serving.

With these steps, your Vịt Nấu Chao will be ready to impress with its delightful blend of flavors and textures.


After cooking the duck and preparing the Chao sauce, you’re now ready to bring all elements together for a delightful presentation.

Combining Ingredients

Start by placing the carved duck pieces neatly on a serving platter. Make sure to arrange them in a way that they overlap slightly, showcasing the tender, juicy slices. Pour the creamy Chao sauce you’ve prepared earlier evenly over the duck. Ensure every piece is well-coated with the sauce for maximum flavor.

Final Seasoning

Before serving, it’s crucial to give your dish a final touch of seasoning. Sprinkle a pinch of freshly ground black pepper over the duck to enhance the flavors. Next, add a handful of freshly chopped cilantro and sliced green onions. These fresh herbs will not only brighten the dish visually but also add a burst of freshness that complements the rich sauce. Serve immediately to enjoy the full spectrum of flavors and textures.

Serving Suggestions

After you have masterfully prepared the Vịt Nấu Chao, presenting it appealingly is key to enhancing the dining experience. Here are the best ways to serve this traditional Vietnamese dish.

Accompanying Side Dishes

To complement the rich flavors of Vịt Nấu Chao, consider serving it with a side of steamed jasmine rice. The subtle sweetness of the rice pairs perfectly with the savory depth of the Chao sauce. You can also offer a platter of fresh vegetables such as cucumber slices, pickled carrots, and daikon radish to add a crisp, refreshing contrast to the tender, flavorful duck.

Beverage Pairings

A light, fragrant beverage alongside Vịt Nấu Chao can enhance the dish’s multitude of flavors. Opt for a chilled glass of Riesling or a floral lychee-based cocktail, which complements the aromatic components of the dish. For non-alcoholic options, a jasmine or green tea serves as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites.

Garnishing Tips

Before bringing the dish to the table, sprinkle a modest amount of freshly chopped cilantro and green onions over the duck. This not only adds a burst of color but also introduces a fresh, herbaceous flavor that cuts through the rich sauce. A final scatter of crushed peanuts can add a delightful crunch and nutty undertone to each mouthful.


Serve Vịt Nấu Chao on a large, pre-warmed platter to keep the duck warm throughout the meal. Position the carved duck pieces in the center, artistically draped with the creamy Chao sauce. Garnishes should be scattered over the top just before serving to maintain their vibrant color and texture. This setup not only makes the dish inviting but also allows guests to appreciate the full array of flavors and aromas before diving in.

By following these suggestions, you ensure that every element of your Vịt Nấu Chao meal contributes to an unforgettable dining experience, marrying traditional Vietnamese flavors with thoughtful presentation and accompaniments.


Now that you’ve got the scoop on crafting the perfect Vịt Nấu Chao, why not give it a try for your next dinner party or family gathering? This delightful dish not only offers a taste of Vietnamese tradition but also a chance to impress with your culinary skills. Remember to enjoy the process from kitchen to table and savor each bite of this exquisite cuisine. Here’s to a fantastic cooking adventure that’s sure to win hearts and tantalize taste buds!

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