- 1 (2- to 3-pound) whole duck
- 1 gallon boiling water
- 5 tablespoons clear honey
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons Chinese five spice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 6 tablespoons caster sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 8 store-bought Chinese pancakes
- 4 spring onions, shredded
- 1/2 cucumber, shredded
This is one of my favorite recipes to cook for a large crowd. It's great for sharing; just set it up in the middle of the table, carve and let everyone help themselves. The traditional Peking duck is marinated is coated with a maltose-vinegar solution, but I like to use honey, dark soy, Chinese five spice and brown sugar. It enriches the flavor of the duck skin and caramelizes it. Serve with store-bought wheat flour pancakes with cucumber and spring onion.
Technique tip: Puncture the skin with small holes to make it as crispy as possible.
Swap option: You can use a whole chicken instead (if using chicken, there is no need to prick the skin of the chicken; it is not as fatty as duck).
Special equipment: Stainless steel rack, fan, deep-roasting tray, pastry brush, bamboo steamer and temperature thermometer.
For the duck:1.
Place the duck on a rack over a deep roasting tin and prick the skin all over with the tip of a Chinese meat fork or sharp fork. Pour the hot water all over the bird and leave on one side until the water has all drained away from the bird.2.
Discard the water and pat the duck dry with absorbent paper. Leave the duck exposed to air until it's really dry to the touch. Hang it in a cool place, cellar or set a fan over it and fan it for a few hours; the longer you can do this, the crisper the skin will be.3.
Mix the honey, soy sauce, five-spice powder and brown sugar together. Using a pastry brush, brush this sauce over the duck, inside and out.4.
Leave the bird to dry once more. There should now be a thin glaze all over the bird. Give the duck another coat of sauce and leave to dry once more. Keep repeating the process until all sauce has been used up. You can do this over a period of 8 hours, or a few hours is fine, but remember to do this in a cool dry place. If you don't have time, just a quick 15 minutes between brushing the skin with the sauce is fine.5.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the duck on a rack and roast the duck for 45 minutes, skin-side-up, or until the skin has become crisp.6.
Use a temperature thermometer and place it between the leg and the body (the densest part of the bird; if the temperature reads more than 175 F, the duck is ready).
For the sauce:
While the duck is roasting, make the sauce. Warm a wok over a moderate heat, and add the sesame oil, hoisin sauce, caster sugar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook down until the sauce has thickened. Leave to cool.
Remove the duck from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.2.
Set a small bamboo steamer over a rack inside a small pan or wok half filled with water. Place the pancakes in the steamer, bring the water to a boil and steam on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes.3.
Joint the duck and slice its meat off the bone. Spread a teaspoon or so of sauce over each pancake and scatter with a little of the spring onions and shredded cucumber. Top with a generous helping of sliced duck meat. Roll up the pancakes into a cigar shape and serve on a plate. Or, let your guests help themselves by placing all the individual components on little serving dishes. Enjoy!