Waist Tonic Beggar’s Duck Legs

ShareFood Writer

You may have heard of the Chinese Beggar’s Chicken before, but home cook Jessie Koey has a recipe that triumphs the popular dish- Waist Tonic Beggar’s Duck Legs.

Although prepared with the same unique method, the flavour of the dish is enhanced by the heartier flavour of duck and a special sauce infused with Hockhua’s Waist Tonic Essence for a huge health boost!

As the legend goes, a beggar stole a chicken, wrapped it in lotus leaves and buried it in clay to cook without anyone noticing. When he dug it out and unwrapped the chicken, its tantalising aroma attracted the emperor who was passing by and he stopped to dine with the beggar! The emperor enjoyed it so much that he ordered the dish be added to the imperial menu.

However, we’re sure that the emperor in the legend would enjoy the dish even more if the beggar stole a duck instead!

Hockhua Waist Tonic Beggar's Duck Legs

Waist Tonic Beggar's Duck Legs

As the name suggests, Waist Tonic Essence is traditionally taken to relieve body aches around the waist and to strengthen the body by improving blood circulation for a rejuvenating effect.

Here are the health benefits of Hockhua’s Waist Tonic Essence:

  • Cordyceps - Promotes healthy lungs and kidneys, reduces cough and phlegm
  • Ginseng: - Improves stamina, promotes healthy spleen and lungs, aids blood formation, and helps in relaxation
  • Dangui - Aids in blood formation and circulation
  • Ba Ji Tian - Promotes healthy kidneys, strong bones and helps relieve rheumatism
Hockhua Waist Tonic Essence

Hockhua Waist Tonic Essence

You can also incorporate the waist tonic essence into other yummy dishes or simply take it as a health supplement!

If you like the idea of taking these Chinese tonics in your food, check out our recipes that uses chicken essence.

Here are the ingredients that you will need: duck legs, light and dark soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine, chicken stock, salt, pepper, sugar, rock sugar, red dates, wolfberries, ginger, cornflour water, and Hockhua’s Waist Tonic Essence.

For the “clay” to cook the duck in, you will need some flour, salt, and water.

The first step of the dish is to marinate the duck legs.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix them well with your hands. Be sure to rub the seasoning ingredients into the duck legs so they are well coated with flavour.

Adding wolfberries to raw duck legs

Add the duck legs and marinade ingredients into a bowl

Rubbing marinade into raw duck legs

Mix well with hands and rub the marinade into the duck legs

When the duck legs are well coated with marinade, put it to chill in the fridge for three hours.

Second step: Steam the duck legs

Once the time is up, transfer the duck legs and marinade into a steaming dish. Put the dish into a steamer and let it steam over high heat for 20 minutes.

Steaming duck legs with red dates, wolfberries, and ginger

Steam the duck legs for 20 minutes

While the duck legs are steaming, use the waiting time to make the flour dough that replaces the traditional clay to bake the duck in.

Third step: make the flour dough to bake the Beggar’s duck

In a large mixing bowl, add all the flour dough ingredients and mix well with a spatula until the dough forms.

Pouring water into flour and salt in a mixing bowl

Add all of the dough ingredients into a bowl

Mixing dough with a spatula

Mix the dough with a spatula until it becomes stiff

The dough will become stiffer as you continue mixing so once it looks like in the picture above, switch from using a spatula to your hands.

Keep gathering up the dough and kneading it into a ball. It should be stiff and firm but still flexible.

Kneading dough in a mixing bowl

Gather and knead the dough with hands

Once the dough is ready, place it on a large flat surface.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is big enough to wrap the duck legs in.

Rolling dough with a rolling pin

Roll the dough with a rolling pin

Sheet of dough on table

Roll until the dough forms a large rectangle

Lay a large sheet of baking paper over the dough, followed by a sheet of cling wrap, and a final sheet of baking paper.

Preparing dough and wrappings for Beggar's duck

Lay a sheet of baking paper, cling wrap, then baking paper over the dough

By this time, your duck legs should have finished steaming so we can wrap them up now.

Place the duck legs onto the middle of the baking sheet with kitchen tongs. Also place the red dates, wolfberries, and ginger slices on top of them.

Putting cooked duck legs onto baking paper with tongs

Place the steamed duck legs in the middle of the baking paper

Placing ginger, wolfberries and red dates onto duck

Place the ginger, wolfberries, and red dates on the duck legs

Don’t discard the marinade! We will need it later for the sauce.

Wrap the topmost layer of baking paper around the duck legs first then followed by the cling wrap, baking paper, and finally dough.

Wrapping duck legs in cling foil

Wrap one layer around the duck legs at a time

Wrapping beggar's duck in dough

Finally, wrap the dough around the duck legs

#Tip: wrapping the layers one by one helps you get a tighter and neater wrap!

Now on to the fourth step: bake!

Flip the dough so that the smoother side faces upwards and place the whole thing on a roasting pan.

Wrapping beggar's duck in dough

Flip the dough upwards

Let it bake for two to three hours at 190° C.

Beggar's duck baking in the over

Bake in the oven for 2-3 hours

About five to ten minutes before the baking time is up, prepare the waist tonic sauce.

Fifth step: Prepare the Waist Tonic Sauce and serve the dish

Pour the duck marinade from earlier onto a saucepan and heat it up on low heat. Thicken it with some cornflour water and stir well.

Pouring cornflour water into sauce in pan

Heat up the marinade and thicken with cornflour water

Stirring thickened sauce with wooden spatula

Stir until sauce has thickened

When the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool down slightly. Then, add in the waist tonic essence and stir it well into the sauce.

#Tip: the waist tonic essence’s health properties will be destroyed by high heat so ensure the sauce is cooled before adding it in!

Adding waist tonic essence to sauce in pan

Add the waist tonic essence to the slightly cooled sauce

Remove the Beggar’s Duck from the oven and use a rolling pin to break the crust open.

Breaking open crust of Beggar's duck with rolling pin

Break the baked dough with a rolling pin

Beggar's duck with broken clay crusts

Remove the wrapped duck legs from the baked dough

Place the wrapped duck legs onto a serving dish first before unwrapping them.

It is best to use a dish or bowl with some depth to it so you can tuck in the baking paper nicely into the sides and prevent any sauce or juices from flowing out.

Unwrapping beggar's duck in dish

Unwrap the duck legs in a serving dish

Beggar's duck legs in serving dish

Tuck the edges of the baking paper into the dish for a neater presentation

Generously spoon the waist tonic sauce over the duck legs and garnish with some springs onions.

Hockhua Waist Tonic Beggar's Duck Legs

Serve hot and your Waist Tonic Beggar’s Duck legs are ready!

Get the recipe here!

Waist Tonic Beggar's Duck Legs

Servings 2 people

Prep Time 210 minutes

Cook Time 210 minutes


Duck and marinade

  • 2 whole duck legscleaned and fats trimmed, make slits on the thicker part of the drumstick
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2tbsp chinese cooking wineA.K.A hua tiao chiew
  • 3tbsp chicken stock
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1/2tbsp sugar
  • 2small rock sugar
  • 1tbsp wolfberries
  • 3slices gingerbruised
  • 100ml Waist Tonic Essence

Flour dough

  • 800g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 400ml water

Waist Tonic Sauce

  • cornflour water1/2 tsp cornflour + 2 tbsp water
  • 50ml Waist Tonic Essence


Step 1: Marinate the duck legs

  1. In a bowl, add all the duck and marinade ingredients and mix well.
  2. Put the bowl to chill and marinate for about 3 hours.

Step 2: Steam the duck

  1. Steam marinated duck legs over high heat for 20 minutes.

Step 2: Make the flour dough

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour dough ingredients to form a stiff, pliable dough.
  2. Roll out into a rectangle, big enough to wrap the duck legs.

Step 4: Bake the duck

  1. Lay a sheet of baking paper, a sheet of cling wrap and another sheet of baking paper on top of the rolled-out dough.
  2. Place the steamed duck legs and red dates on top of the layers and wrap – baking paper, cling wrap, baking paper, dough
  3. Place the wrapped duck legs in a roasting pan and bake in pre-heated oven at 190°C for about 2-3 hours.

Step 5: Prepare the waist tonic sauce

  1. In a saucepan, thicken the sauce from step 2 with cornflour water.
  2. Turn off heat and add 50ml waist tonic.
  3. Crack open the flour dough and remove the layers of paper and wrap.
  4. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle the waist tonic sauce over the duck before serving.

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