Peking Duck

This has always been one of my favourite dishes. In Australia when you order it the waiter will bring a whole duck on a trolley and slices of crispy skin to be eaten with the pancakes, cucumber and spring onion. The rest of the meat is prepared in your choice of dishes. While in Britain you get aromatic crispy duck with pancakes where you shred the meat and skin together and eat it with the pancakes (this dish is more a confit of duck than Peking Duck) and is actually Sichuan Crispy Duck, which is steamed and then deep fried and is accompanied by lettuce and spring onions rather than pancakes.

Peking Duck was created in 1855 in the Pen Yee Restaurant and was for the wealthy, with chefs needing to train for 3 months on the preparation of this dish. Preparing Peking Duck at home is time consuming but worth while. For the best results you need to inflate the duck, by blowing up the skin through a the neck end (if you don't feel up to it or you may try using a bicycle pump) but this step isn't necessary . Next boiling water with honey, wine, vinegar and ginger is poured over the duck to glaze it. The duck is then hung for 8-11 hours in a well ventilated place (this can be reduced by more than half by using a fan to dry the skin). Then traditionally the duck is cooked in clay oven with charcoal or coal, obviously this step is done in the oven in this recipe.

Wine Recommendation: A light Beaujolais such as a Morgan or Brouilly. See The Mixed Case for details.

Portions: 4-6 Portions

Ingredients

Peking Duck

  • 2 kg duck
  • 4 litres water
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 5 cm knob of ginger
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 125ml rice wine vinegar

You will need

  • string or meat hooks
  • bicycle pump (optional)
  • fan (optional)

To Serve

  • 24-30 Mandarin Pancakes (purchase from Chinese Food shops from the freezer)
  • 24-30 3-4cm spring onion pieces
  • 24-30 3cm-4cm*1cm cucumber batons
  • Hoisin or Plum Sauce

Stir Fried Duck

  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp ground nut or corn oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp. ginger, finely chopped
  • 30g canned bamboo slices, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienne (thin batons .3mm thick and 3 cm long)
  • 50g beansprouts
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

Method

  1. Inflating Duck Skin: Remove the extra fat from the duck and dry the cavity. Place the nozzle of a bicycle pump in the neck end between the skin and meat and inflate the skin or blow with your mouth (optional step).
  2. Glaze: Place the water, honey, ginger, wine and vinegar in a wok or large saucepan, bring the water to the boil. Holding the duck by the string dip the whole body of the duck in the water and ladle the water over it for 20 seconds.
  3. To Hang: Hang the duck by its neck with meat hooks in front of a fan for 2-3 hours or for 8 hours in a dry well ventilated place to dry the skin.
  4. To Cook: Preheat an oven to 200°C. Place the star anise, spring onion and bruised garlic clove in the duck cavity. Place the duck breast side up on a rack in an oven tray, pour a little water in the base of the tray and place it in the middle shelf in the oven for 20 minutes then turn the breast side down, reduce the temperature to 180°C and cook for a further 30 minutes. Turn the duck breast side up for the final cooking for 20 minutes, if the skin is already very red reduce the temperature to 150°C or if it is very pal increase the temperature to 200°C.
  5. To Serve: Steam the pancakes in bamboo steaming baskets or in a steamer. Serve them on plates or directly from the baskets. Slice off 4cm squares of the skin with a little meat (5mm). Lay them out on a serving dish with the spring onions and cucumber batons and hoisin sauce. To assemble the pancakes together each guest should spread a little hoisin sauce over the pancake, then place a piece of duck skin on the pancake and piece of spring onion and cucumber, then roll them.
  6. Stir Fried Duck: Slice the meat from the duck into even pieces. Place the sesame oil and groundnut oil in a wok over a high heat and add the garlic and ginger, cook it for 30 seconds then add the meat with the remaining ingredients and cook for 2 minutes until hot. Serve with steamed rice alongside or after the duck pancakes.