Peking Style Duck with pancakes has always been considered a special treat in our house, it’s such a sociable meal, where everyone comes together and gets stuck in! And it’s a real dinner for carnivores, so you’ve got to be happy to pull the bones apart and get your fingers greasy!
There is a festive excitement about wrapping up the little parcels of duck, spring onions and cucumber all dripping with sweet hoisin sauce. And what I particularly like about this recipe is that you get to know exactly which herbs, spices and flavouring are making all those incredible flavours. As often, the branded bought Peking sauces which are available have an impressive array of unpronounceable and suspicious ingredients that just aren’t necessary.
When it comes to the pancakes, I must admit I always cheat and buy them from my local Chinese supermarket. I did try making my own once, but they were so much thicker and heavier that the feathery lightness of the shop bought pancakes – and I had to concede defeat.
This is not a quick dish to cook, as it always takes time to achieve such magic, but it is a recipe that looks after itself quite happily, once all the aromatic flavours are introduced to the duck. You need to cook it in two stages starting the day before you plan to serve it. It is steamed in a bath of spiced water in a foil wrapped baking tin which both tenderises the meat and renders the fat, the next day you reduce down all the juices to make the sauce, and you roast the duck in the oven, just long enough to crisp up the skin until gloriously golden.
Once the duck is ready, and the sauce has become sticky and concentrated, you shred the meat from the bone, and serve on the pancakes accompanied with finely sliced matchsticks of cucumber and spring onions. A delicious little bundle to be gobbled up!
Once every morsel is stripped from the bones, don’t throw them away! They make a delicious duck broth the next day, which makes this rather extravagant meal suddenly seem more affordable.
- To serve 4
- 1 large good quality duck
- washed, dried and rubbed generously with sea salt.
- Freshly groung black pepper.
- 1 small onion peeled and quartered.
- 2 or 3 star anise
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, or just add a couple of whole cloves to the water.
- 50g dark brown sugar or honey if preferred.
- 50ml dark soy sauce
- For serving:
- 1 cucumber cut into little matchsticks
- 1 bunch of spring onions shredded
- 2 packs of pancakes bought from a Chinese grocers
- For sauce:
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 125ml red or brown miso
- 125ml maple syrup or runny honey
- 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- Wash and dry the duck and then rub it generously with salt all over.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C
- Trim any excess fat from the back end of the duck (this can be rendered separately and saved for later use)
- With your sharpest knife, make lots of little superficial slits in the surface of the skin, but be careful to keep it intact and not to tear it. This allows the fat to escape and the skin to crisp up.
- Place the duck in a large roasting pan breast side up - season generously with pepper, sprinkle with ground cloves and put the onion and star anise in the duck cavity.
- Pour enough boiling water over the duck and into the pan until 2.5cm deep.
- Scatter the brown sugar or honey into the surrounding water.
- Cover well with foil and put in the oven for 1hr, then unwrap and flip it over and return to the oven re-wrapped for another hour.
- Place the duck on a plate to cool completely.
- Transfer all of the juices and liquid to a heavy bottomed saucepan, and boil for ½ hour to reduce and condense the sauce. Wrap and chill the duck over- night and allow the liquid in the covered pan to cool.
- The next day, you can easily skim off the separated fat from the top of the sauce.
- The next day, brush a little of the sauce over the duck and roast it in a hot oven 260C/240C for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown and crispy.
- While it is in the oven, add the additional ingredients listed for the sauce, tasting as you go, incase you find it too salty or too sweet. Adjust accordingly.
- Carve the duck on a large platter and pull the legs and wings off the bird to make serving easier. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat prior to serving.
- The pancakes only take a minute to steam or microwave.