[Recipe] Salted Vegetables and Duck Soup (Itek Tim) - Teochew and Peranakan Style

How to make Salted Vegetables Duck Soup

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup is another worthy replacement for Chicken soup as the “Soup for the Soul”. It evokes the same home comfort feeling in me whenever I taste my first sip of this soup.
Salty and sourish at the same time, it gives a tangy kick to your tastebud – especially when you add chilli padi into the soup, it is no wonder Teochews and Peranakans both love this soup, though both versions taste similar. The Nonyas (Lady Peranakans) add more ingredients to give it a fuller flavour. That said, I grew up drinking my mom’s Teochew style but I love the Nonya style too! The recipe I am featuring comes in two styles, the Peranakan flavour is adapted from Food and Travel magazine while the Teochew style is from my mother.
First up, Salted Vegetables Duck Soup a.k.a. Itek Tim, the Nonya way.


3 pig trotters chopped into 6cm pieces
4L water
12 salted plums (you can find them packed in a glass bottle, it is not the dried sng buay)
1 medium sized duck, cut into 4 quarters
800g salted vegetables, rinsed and drained (get the cruncy type)
6 tomatos, chopped into quarters
8 pieces of dried assam skin (tamarind)
4 green chillies, finely chopped to serve. You can pop it into the soup if you like the spicy kick.


  1. Blanch the trotters and duck in a pot of boiling water to remove the scum. Drain them and discard water.
  2. Boil the 4L water in a fresh pot and thereafter, add all the ingredients including the trotters and duck, except for salt and chillies (optional)
  3. Cover the pot and let it simmer till the duck meat softens, add salt to taste
  4. The longer you boil the soup, the softer the duck meat gets, to the point that it tears away from the bone very easily. Dip the meat into light or dark soya sauce with chilli and enjoy!

Now, the Teochew style….("kiam chye arc tng" - in Teochew)


4L water
2-3 salted plums, add more if you like sour taste
Thumb sized old ginger
Medium sized duck cut into quarters
800g salted vegetables
Tomatos, up to you cos I am not a fan of tomato
1 stalk of Lemongrass – peel off hard outer layer and bruise it lightly with the blunt side of a chopper or knife, cut into 2 pieces to fit in the pot
Salt to taste


  1. Same as above, blanch the duck.
  2. Boil the water in a fresh pot.
  3. Throw all into the pot, except salt, when water is boiling.
  4. Simmer for about an hour to let the duck meat soften.
There is no fixed rule to making this soup. You can adjust the salted plums, ginger, lemongrass, salt, chilli to your personal preference after trial and error.

For safety’s sake, ensure that the pot you use is large enough such that the water level is 2/3 full. Otherwise, the water would bubble over when it is boiling, resulting in a fire hazard and messy stove. Always check on your pot even when simmering to ensure that the flame is still on, you don’t want your kitchen to be a gas mine.
The soup taste even better when you keep the leftover and boil it over and over again. The flavour from the duck would come out even more.

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