This Dish May Get You Arrested

Ginger Duck Hot Pot (薑母鴨 – jiāng mǔ yā) is a seasonal dish in the winter. It’s basically a duck hot pot with a few special ingredients. First is the ginger, not the ginger used in stir-fry cooking, but the “old” ginger (薑母). Ginger adds spice to the hot pot. It’s also regarded to have medicinal powers. Then there’s sesame oil (芝麻油 – zhī ma yóu). This adds the unique aroma of the hot pot as well as its rich flavor. Finally is the one ingredient that may get you in trouble at a police check point. 薑母鴨 must have rice wine (米酒 – mǐ jiǔ). It sweetens the hot pot, but at 19.5% alcoholic content can be risky for some people. While this combination is very savory and will warm you up on a cold night, it could possibly put you over the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)…riding a scooter…or even riding a bicycle!

Ginger Duck Hot Pot (姜母鴨) is a seasonal dish in the winter. The traditional dish combines duck, ginger, sesame oil, and rice wine to warm up the body when it’s cold. Be careful: the rice wine is 19.5 percent alcohol-more than regular wines. Drinking too much 姜母鴨 soup, especially for teetotalers, may get you a free city tour in the back seat of a police car on the way to a night in jail.

The 薑母鴨 restaurants can be distinguished by the black duck. The restaurants usually have lanterns printed with a black duck and the words, “薑母鴨.” Black, yellow, and red are themes for these restaurants.

What makes a good Ginger Duck Hot Pot (薑母鴨)? The soup should be spicy, sweet, and have a strong sesame aroma. The stronger these flavors, the better the 薑母鴨. Also, there are two heating methods. While the traditional method is the clay pot over a fire, some restaurants use gas stoves for convenience. Each have benefits, but purists will say only the clay pot is the true 薑母鴨.

Side Items

薑母鴨 comes with duck meat, ginger, sesame oil, and rice wine. But, the basic pot comes with little vegetables, so most people order extra side items. They include cabbage, mushrooms and other items listed on the menu. There’s typically one sauce made from fermented tofu, which is slightly salty, but complements the food.


#1. Instead of rice, 薑母鴨 is traditionally eaten with a noodle side dish (麵線 – miàn xiàn) made with the string noodles and sesame oil. This is a must have. One order is usually enough for two small servings. It’s great as an appetizer while the ginger duck pot is cooking.

麵線 – miàn xiàn

#2. Most people take the leftover soup home, so the next day you can enjoy 薑母鴨 at home. Many items are available in the local markets. Ask for “take out” (打包 – dǎ bāo). To ask for a little more soup, it’s “加點湯 – jiā diǎn tāng.”

#3. Feel free to experiment with the soup. Seafood adds an intriguing twist to the flavor. Some variations include oysters, shrimp, and even crab.


This menu is typical of many 薑母鴨 restaurants. It should help you order side items and for some people, which items to avoid.

Learning Chinese

Ginger Duck Hot Pot 薑母鴨 jiāng mǔ yā
Sesame oil 芝麻油 zhī ma yóu
Rice wine 米酒 mǐ jiǔ
String noodle dish 麵線 miàn xiàn
To take out打包 dǎ bāo
To add some soup 加點湯jiā diǎn tāng
Corn 玉米 yù mǐ
Baby corn shoot 玉米筍yù mǐ sǔn
Cabbage 高麗菜 gāo lí cài
Beer 啤酒 pí jiǔ
Kaohliang whiskey 高粱酒 gāo liang jiǔ

Photo Credits:
Google Users: Jasmine Cheng, Belinda Chen, and ChiaFang Hsu

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