1.Wash duck, cut into serving-sized pieces. Drain water chestnuts and bamboo shoots; slice thinly. Soak mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, squeeze dry. Remove stalks, slice mushrooms thinly.
2.Coat duck pieces lightly in cornflour. Heat oil in pan or wok. Add crushed garlic and half the duck pieces, cook until well browned. Remove from pan, repeat with remaining pieces.
3.Drain oil from pan, add duck and combined soy sauce, sherry and ginger, cook two minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water and crumbled stock cubes, bring to boil. Put duck and liquid into saucepan, cover and simmer gently two and a quarter hours or until duck is tender.
4.Thirty minutes before cooking is completed, add mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. When duck is tender skim off any fat, stir in combined extra cornflour, sugar, salt, pepper, extra soy sauce, extra water and sesame oil. Stir until sauce boils and thickens. Top with sliced shallots.
The pot in which the duck is shown in final photograph can be bought reasonably cheaply at Chinese food stores and emporiums. It is an excellent vessel for braising. Before using, completely submerge the pot in cold water for 24 hours. It will break if put directly on to heat without soaking. When storing, always put about 2.5cm (1in) of water in the pot to keep moist.