There is a famous goose in the Chaoshan area of Denghai 澄海, the head is covered with a huge sarcoma and looks like a lion’s head, so it is called “lion head goose” 狮头鹅. As majestic as the lion, the goose can grow to 10 kg and is valued in the Teochew delicacy called Braised Goose.
In fact, the braised goose has always occupied an important position among the Chaoshan people. It is prepared for the important festivals and ancestor worship. Even if the braised goose is no longer an expensive item that is reserved for special occasions, it is still an indispensable dish in the life of Chaoshan people. After all, “不吃不相识，吃过不相忘” what you never try your never miss, once you have tried you never forget.
In a sense, it is not the lion head goose itself that the Chaoshan people love to eat. The lion head goose is only the carrier of the braising liquid. The braising liquid 卤汁 is made of light and dark soy sauce, cooking wine, fish sauce, sugar, and fermented bean sauce. In addition, different family recipes will call for different amounts of star anise, cinnamon, pepper, fennel, clove, dried tangerine peel, licorice, bay leaves, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, onion, fresh coriander or dried coriander seeds. All these are boiled in a stock of chicken and pork bones and used repeatedly. Most of the family will keep a pot. Mine has a pot that is over a year old, we just add new braising liquid every time.
The braising process is cumbersome. The goose must be marinated before entering the braise. After the initial “bath” in the braise, it is necessary to hang dry the goose before repeating the process several times so that the taste of the braise penetrates into every inch of the flesh of the goose while retaining the tenderness and juiciness beneath the glistening skin.
While the Hong Kong roast goose will do away with the wings tips, feet and offals., the Teochew braised goose retains these parts as they become the best and the essence of the braise technique – brine foie gras, old goose head, goose palm, goose-wing, these are the parts that the Teochew craves after as they completely carry the taste of the braise. In addition to this, there are goose intestines, goose geese, goose hearts, goose tongues, goose blood, goose eggs, etc.
However three parts stand out: foie gras, goose head, goose palm (web feet). Foie gras is an important part of the French cuisine, but it is also controversial because of its cruel harvesting method. Compared with French foie gras, the Teochew foie gras is smaller; the color is also brownish gray. The main difference, as the Teochew does not waste any part of the complete goose, the liver is taken straight from the goose without addition force-feeding or harvesting. As a result, the foie gras is less fatty or creamy but still retains the silky smooth texture and all of its flavour.
We love braised goose, and for many young ones in the family, never tasted one because Singapore has banned the imports of goose for many years. In recent times, Taiwanese frozen geese were allowed in, but due to the high price and taste, they were not accepted by the local market.
So generations of Singaporean Teochews can only do with braised duck. So when I got the chance, I bought one goose for the family. One goose was cut into 14 boxes of goodness. Therefore everyone in the family get a box each.