A few years ago, freshly out of college, the kids and I spent the whole month sightseeing in Vietnam and China. Tasting Peking Duck in Beijing was a unique experience and learning how to make it at home is a dream of anyone. Don’t even think that we can beat the pros spending generations to perfect a famous dish of China. My homey version of Peking Duck after reading, searching, learning including copying from other pros is nothing near to Peking Duck in Beijing but it sure makes my family’s dinner special with the flavorful aroma, crispy skin, and succulent meat. It take a few days to thaw and prep the duck but only need over one hour to roast the duck before dinner.
Make 4 servings
For the duck
One 4-5 lb fresh or frozen duck, thawed if frozen
2 Tbs rice wine or dry sherry (optional)
8 Cups boiling water
1/2 tsp each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg and white or black pepper
1/8 tsp ground clove
3 Tbs maltose or honey
1 Tbs vinegar
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 Tbs rice wine or dry sherry
1 recipe of mandarin pancake, can be made while baking duck
1 recipe of dipping sauce
5 green onions, julienned (3-4 inches)
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced lengthways (3-4 inches)
1. Clean duck like chicken, remove apparent hard feather roots, excess fat, at opening at each end. Remove giblet and save for another use or soup. Cut off the first two joint of the wings, the neck, feet if presented in fresh duck and reserve for soup. Rub the duck with a little bit of salt inside and out. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Put the duck in a large shallow container, baste and rub with 2 Tbs rice wine if use inside and out, pat dry. Use a small knife and your hands loosen the skin as far as you can go and try not to poke the skin. Remember safety first, take the knife out and use your fingers to check before put the knife back under the skin. This step is imitating the blowing step to separate the skin and the meat but you can skip it.
2. Mix ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, clove together. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of spices’ mixture inside the duck, use your fingers to rub the spices in. Cut one green onion in half , bruise(smash ) it, and stuck it in the cavity.
3. Gather loose skin edges at the abdominal cavity opening and sew them together with a small bamboo skewer. Break off the excess ends. Fold the skin slap and seal the neck opening with a small bamboo skewer too.
4. Put the duck breast side up on a rack over the sink or a baking pan. Ladle half of the boiling water slowly all over the skin. Then turn the duck over and ladle the rest of the boiling water in the same manner. if you have a strong arm, the duck can be held above the boiling water pot with a metal hook and ladle boiling water with other hand. Drain, discard water. Wash and dry the baking pan. Keep the duck on rack over the baking pan again.
5. In a small sauce pan, combine maltose or honey, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and remained spices mixture. Bring it to a boil and low the heat down to simmer. Slowly ladle the hot liquid over the duck same like ladle boiling water in previous step but do not discard the pooling liquid in baking pan.
6. Put the duck with breast side up on the rack in a baking pan in the refrigerator uncover. Let it dry for 2 hours and reapply the liquid in the pan over the duck a few more times every 2 hours. Let it dry 1.5 to 2 days in the fridge. The skin will be dark and dry like parchment paper.
7. Remove the duck from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Discard the liquid, wash and rinse the baking pan. Turn the oven to 350 oF, position a rack at lowest position. Put 2 cups water in the baking pan and put the duck with the breast side up on a baking rack set in the baking pan for 30 minutes. Turn the duck over bake 30 more minutes. Turn the heat up to 500 oF bake 5 minutes. Then turn the breast side up bake 5 minutes, check if the skin is good enough, may bake a few more minutes to achieve the color you want but keep an eye close do not let the skin too brown. Turn off oven, take the duck out and let the duck rests uncovered 10-15 minutes. Remove the bamboo skewers. Empty and reserve the liquid inside the duck into to a small bowl for another use. Slice skin and meat into thin slices (<=1/4 in.) with a sharp knife. Skin maybe sliced separately without meat (1.5×2 in.)
8. Serve with mandarin pancake, slice cucumber, green onion with dipping sauce. Diner will make their own rolls. A small portion of dipping sauce is put directly onto the pancake by a small spoon or a brush made by green onion, then meat, cucumber and green onion or a few slice of meat is dipped into the sauce then put atop of the pancake. A soup is made from roast duck bone is served after the rolls.
I bought frozen ducks from Cash and Carry, Winco, Fred Meyer, or Asian stores and thaw it in the refrigerator about 2 days or in cold water (immerse the whole package or put the duck in a leaking proof bag in cold water) over the counter about 3 hours (change the cold water every 30 minutes).
If you do not have a cleave to chop the wings’ joints, use a sharp knife and cut the skin around the joints and detach the joints follow anatomy connections.
Maltose is very sticky and will get harder with time and you do not have to measure exact amount just eyeball it or put the container in hot water to soften the maltose. I am not sure the container is microwaveable or not. It is sold at Asian store and not too expensive but help the duck skin shiny.
Salt and wine is used in cleaning step to help improving the flavor.
Skip step 4 scalding with boiling water if you want to.
The dipping sauce
1 Tbs sesame oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tbs corn starch
Combine all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir continuously until bubbles, taste and adjust seasoning. Low the heat down and simmer a few more minutes until the flour cooked through and sauce lightly thickening . Let cool down.
Make 16 pancakes
1.5 cup all purpose flour and extra for flour the working surface
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1 Tbs sesame oil
1. In a medium heatproof bowl, combine flour, salt, 1/2 tsp sesame oil. Add boiling water, stir quickly with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough. Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth about 5 minutes. Cover with a moist kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes at room temperature.
2. Roll the dough into a long log about 1 inch in diameter. Cut into 16 equal pieces with the chopping motion. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten slightly. Roll each ball on a very lightly floured surface into a round 3 inches diameter. Lightly brush sesame oil on top of 8 circles and place an unoiled circle on top of each oiled circle. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin and roll each pair into one 5-inch or larger circle (the thinner pancake is better). Try to roll both sides and change direction to make it round but not too worry if rounds are not perfect. Keep the rounds cover.
3. Heat a 8-inch ungreased skillet over medium high heat. Put one pancake in the skillet. Cook until pancake puffs and bubbles appears about 1 minute. Turn pancake over and cook until it has a few light brown spots, turns parchment color and feel dry. If cook too long or the skillet too hot, it becomes brittle. Remove from heat, put them on a plate and cover with a clean dry towel or use the lid of a pot. Keep covered as you cook remaining pancakes. After put the next pancake in the skillet. Carefully pull the two halves of the cooked pancake apart and stack them on top each other in the same plate. Serve warm or let cool and wrap airtight and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Since they dry out quickly, just serve a few at a time and keep the rest covered.