Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peking Duck

In our house, we dispense with traditional Mandarin pancakes and get steamed rice from the local Chinese restaurant and add fresh or cooked frozen peas to the rice and serve it the duck with the dipping sauce in individual small bowls.

Ingredients for the duck:
1 5- to 6-pound whole duck
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 T honey
4 T Chinese five-spice powder
2 T dark soy sauce
2 T brown sugar

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Ingredients for the "bath":
6 cups water and 1/3 cup water, divided
2 T honey
2 T dry sherry
3 T cornstarch
1 T white vinegar

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Ingredients for the sauce:
1 T cornstarch
6 T hoisin sauce
6 T superfine sugar
2 T sesame oil
1 T dark soy sauce

3 scallions, sliced into long thin strips
1 cucumber, cored and sliced into long thin strips
2 carrots, peeled into long thin strips

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Ingredients for Peking Duck rolls:
1 package Chinese/Mandarin-style pancakes

Preparing the duck:
Prick the duck all over with a small knife or fork or bamboo skewer.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/3 cup water. Whisk to get out all of the lumps and set aside.

In a wok, combine 6 cups of water, honey, dry sherry vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, bring back to a boil, stirring until it's translucent.

Slide the duck into the wok and ladle the 'bath' water over the top several times, until the skin goes from looking pinkish white to a yellowish (a couple of minutes). Turn the duck over and repeat the ladle 'bath'.

Remove the duck from the wok and dry all over by patting it with paper towels.

Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle the duck with salt and pepper and leave it in the roasting pan until ready to cook.

Combine the honey, 6 tablespoons water, five-spice, soy sauce and brown sugar in a bowl and brush this marinade all over the duck all, inside and out. Let dry in from of a fan (about 10 minutes) and then brush again. Repeat this process until you have used all but 4 to 5 tablespoons of the glaze (reserve this glaze). Ideally, let the glaze marinate on the duck overnight, leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place one of the oven racks on the lowest rung and the other oven rack on the rung above it.

Place a roasting pan on the lowest rung of the oven and pour about 1 to 3 inches of boiling water into it. Place the rack with the duck, breast side up, directly onto the oven rack above the pan with the boiling water. Roast for 45 minutes. Flip the duck over, baste with the reserved glaze and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, another 45 minutes. Make sure you check halfway through that it is not getting too dark. If it is getting too dark before half the cook time is up, turn your heat down and lower the rack in the oven. The duck is done when a thermometer inserted into the breast or leg reaches 165 degrees F. Remove the duck from the oven and rest it while making the sauce.

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Preparing the sauce:
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and set aside. Next, heat a pan or wok over medium heat and add the hoisin, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. When the sauce starts to bubble slightly, add the cornstarch mixture and stir well to thicken. Set aside and let cool.

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If making Peking duck rolls:
Remove the skin and meat from the duck with your fingers, separating into two piles.

Place 1 rice paper wrapper in a shallow bowl of hot water until softened, and then lay on a damp tea towel. In the center of the wrapper, smear a teaspoon of the sauce in the center of each pancake, add a couple slices of duck, crispy skin, garnish with the scallions, cucumbers, and carrots. Fold in the sides of the wrapper, fold up the bottom and then roll. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and duck. Serve immediately with the sauce for dipping.

Serves 4

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If serving with rice:
With a cleaver, cut the duck down the breast bone. With your hands, bend the duck back, breaking the spine. Cut duck into two halves through the spine. Cut off the duck's legs and wings. Cut the remaining carcass (breasts) through the bones (ribs) into 1-inch pieces.

Serves 4


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