Peking duck is from Beijing (Peking) China. Considered a national dish of China, it has been prepared since the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. During this time, the imperial kitchens in Beijing were known for their elaborate dishes and culinary creations. One of the most famous dishes was a roasted duck, which was prepared by the imperial chefs and served to the emperor and his guests. The meat is characterized by its thin, crispy skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat. Ducks bred especially for the dish are slaughtered after 65 days.
Fattened ducks are killed, plucked, and rinsed thoroughly with water. Air is pumped under the skin through the neck cavity to separate the skin from the fat. The duck is then blanched in boiling hot water for two to three minutes before it is hung up to dry. This tightens the skin. While it is hung, the duck is glazed with a layer of syrup with maltose or honey. A second layer of glaze/marinade of soy sauce, five-spice powder, and more maltose is then applied inside and out, and the duck is hung for 24 hours in a cool, dry place. It is then roasted in an oven until the skin turns shiny brown. The meat and crispy skin is usually eaten with scallions and cucumber slivers over sweet bean sauce with thin Mandarin pancakes rolled around the fillings.
Besides the lengthy traditional methods to prepare Peking duck, recipes have been compiled by chefs all around the world to produce the dish at home. This recipe is one of those.
Chinese Peking Duck
- Large saucepan or pot
- small saucepan
- Roasting pan
- Wire baking rack
- Pastry brush
- 5 lb Duck
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 2 tbspp Maple syrup
- 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (SUB: another white wine)
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 large Cucumber
- ½ bunch Scallions
- ½ cup Hoisin sauce
- 10 whole Mandarin (Chinese) pancakes Homemade Mandarin pancakes
- Prep Duck – Rinse duck and then pat dry. Remove any fat pockets and neck. Place duck on a wire rack in the sink. Boil 3 cups water in large saucepan or tea pot. Pour half the boiling water over the duck. Turn duck over a pour remaining boiling water over. Pat duck dry and poke small holes all over with a knife tip or skewer.
- Coat and Marinate Duck – Mix baking powder and salt together. Sprinkle over all sides of the duck. Simmer soy sauce, rice wine, water, honey and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until a thick syrup forms. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Brush the duck all over with the syrup. Transfer duck in rack to a baking pan. Refrigerate overnight, uncovered, at least 8 hours.
- Roast Duck – Remove duck from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 375℉ (190℃). Cook duck for around 80 minutes. The skin should be dark brown and crispy. Duck is ready when an instant thermometer reads 160℉ when inserted into the thickest part of a breast. Loosely tent duck with tin foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes on a cutting board.
- Serve – While duck is resting, warm mandarin pancakes wrapped in moist paper towels in the microwave for 15 seconds. Slice scallions and cucumber into 2-inch slivers. Put hoisin sauce in a small bowl.Slice duck thin and arrange on a platter with folded pancake, scallion and/or cucumber slivers, and hoisin. Diners can assemble their own by putting some hoisin along the middle of a pancake and the adding duck meat, skin, scallions and cucumber on top. Roll and eat. Groans of pleasure are optional.