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Roast Peking Duck recipe

Roast Peking Duck recipe

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This is a cheats recipe of making Peking duck. Serve with rice orshredded, with pancakes, spring onions, cucumber and plum sauce.

271 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 (1.8kg) whole duck
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 orange, sliced in rounds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 5 spring onions
  • 170g plum jam
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons malt vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped chutney

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr35min ›Extra time:2hr chilling › Ready in:3hr50min

  1. Rinse the duck inside and out and pat dry. Cut off tail and discard. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and cloves. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the mixture into the cavity of the duck. Stir one tablespoon of the soy sauce into the remaining spice mixture and rub evenly over the entire outside of the bird. Cut one of the spring onions in half and tuck inside the cavity. Cover and refrigerate the bird for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  2. Place duck breast side up on a rack in a big enough wok or pan and steam for an hour adding a little more water, if necessary, as it evaporates. Lift duck with two large spoons and drain juices and spring onion.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5. Place duck breast side up in a roasting tin and prick skin all over using a fork.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. While the duck is roasting, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and honey. After 30 minutes, brush the honey mixture onto the duck and return it to the oven. Turn the heat up to 260 C / Gas 10. Roast for 5 minutes or until the skin is richly browned. Do not allow the skin to char.
  5. Prepare the duck sauce by mixing the plum jam with the sugar, vinegar and chutney in a small serving bowl. Chop remaining spring onions and place them into a separate bowl. Place whole duck onto a serving plate and garnish with orange slices and fresh parsley. Use plum sauce and onions for dipping.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(108)

Reviews in English (82)

loved loved loved!-14 Dec 2011

Did this for a Year End Party - very tasty and cleared and licked! (Just be careful about the duck being cooked - we had to cook it for another half hour)-01 Jan 2015

Great recipe, easy, no fat....hubby loved it. Thank you-20 Mar 2016

Beijing Roast Duck (Peking Duck Pancakes) and Merlot Wine Pairing

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Beijing Roast Duck, also known as Peking Duck is a delicious way to prepare roast duck. It is traditionally served as Peking Duck pancakes, wrapped in Mandarin pancakes along with cucumber and plum or hoisin sauce.

Our recipe is easier than many traditional methods, but still yields a delicious duck, full of the classic flavors.

We&rsquore pairing our Peking Duck with Merlot wine for this month&rsquos celebration of #MerlotMe.

Step-by-step Peking Duck Recipe and Tips

I’ve fallen in love with Peking duck since last year when I had a short trip to Beijing. A roasted duck with the beautiful lacquer honey hoskin and the five-spice glaze makes me so impressed. The slices with crispy golden skin separated from the meat with no fat made me understand why this is one of the essences of Asian cuisine.

Peking Duck (Beijing Roast Duck) – special food of Beijing cuisine, is a must-try dish of China. Its history comes back to Yuan Dynasty when Peking duck was firstly mentioned in an Imperial cookbook. And then in the Ming Dynasty, this dish was one of the main courses in the Imperial menu.

Since it was served in royalty only, the traditional method is laborious and complicated, requiring three days of preparation. Today, the simple recipe for a home version is much easier but the taste still comes close to the original.

Inject the whole duck body with a small knife or fork and slowly pour hot water over it to rinse. Be careful at this step!
Put the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and make it dry by using a paper towel to pat. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly throughout the duck, then, leave it in the roasting pan until you are ready to cook.

Mix the ingredients together, including honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, five-spice powder with 6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Use a sauce brush to brush the whole duck, from inside out. Leave it dry in around 10 minutes and brush again.
Repeat until the sauce is almost gone, leaving about 4-5 tablespoons for the graze, we will use it for the next step. Ideally, the graze should be marinated on the duck overnight and put it in the refrigerator.

Put the duck in the oven which is heated at 350oF and cook for 45 minutes. Turn the duck over, water evenly with the leftover graze in step 2 and bake until the skin is crispy and golden brown, waiting for another 45 minutes.
Make sure that you regularly check that the color skin is not getting too dark. If it is, just turn down the temperature and lower the rack of the oven. Remove the duck from the oven after it is cooked. Leave a roasted duck on a large plate while you do the sauce.

Mix cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of cold water. Next, heat the pan, then add the ingredients in turn: hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and soy sauce. When the sauce is boiling slightly, gradually add the cornstarch and stir until it becomes clammy. Set aside and leave it cool.

On a big plate, place a teaspoon of sauce in the middle of each Chinese pancake, carve some slices of duck, garnish with cucumbers and scallions to make the dish tastier. And then, let’s enjoy the juicy duck prepared by your talented hands.

For Garnish:

Slice 3 scallions into long thin strips
Slice 1 cored cucumber into long thin strips
1 package of Chinese-style pancakes to serve with Peking duck
About Chinese-style pancakes: Also called as Mandarin or Moo Shu pancakes. There are several methods on the Internet guiding you to make this pancake at home. But if you don’t have time, no worry, it is available at most big grocery stores.

The Right Way To Enjoy Peking Duck

The way of serving Peking duck in a Chinese restaurant is very unique. The whole duck will be presented before slicing or it might be carved directly at your table in some restaurants. A whole duck can be sliced into about 120 thin slices with both flesh and skin.
In the traditional way, Peking duck is always served with some components and ingredients such as pancakes, fresh cucumbers, plum sauce, shallots or scallions, and sometimes with garlic and sugar.
The best way to enjoy this special food is by using your hands. Put a pancake on one hand, pick up a slice of duck and use it to drop the sauce on a pancake, add some more duck slices, cucumber, and scallions. Finally, nicely roll up the pancake and taste it. Yummy! How delicious it is!
Peking duck is not recommended to eat in summer. In the summer, the weather is humid and crazily hot and surely that you don't like to enjoy greasy food in this hot season.
As Chinese culinary theory, the best time to eat Peking duck is in spring, autumn and winter. Why? In winter and spring, the duck meat is very soft. And the ideal temperature, humidity of autumn is perfect to roast a juicy duck.

Final Thoughts

You can easily search a lot of recipes of Peking duck, which is adapted and remixed to suit the individual’s preferences. We have tried some and found that this recipe brings flavors that closely resemble the traditional taste. The crispy golden skin with mouthwatering duck meat will impress your taste buds.
Instead of taking a flight to Beijing, you can make and enjoy the Peking duck in your home with family and friends. Thanks for reading!

We prefer to bring the world of food, passion for cooking, and various cuisine culture of Asia countries for whom love the cuisine.

Roast Peking Duck recipe - Recipes

Prep Time: 30 minutes, mostly rest time. Cook Time: 1 hour


  • 1 duck
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon , cut in half
  • 4 sprigs sage , rosemary , parsley and/or thyme

Cooking Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Take the ducks out of the fridge. Using a needle or a very sharp knife point, prick the skin of the duck all over — but be sure to not pierce the meat itself, only the skin. This helps the fat render out and will help crisp the skin. Pay special attention to the back, the flanks, and the very front of the breast.

Rub the lemon all over the duck and stick it inside the cavity. Liberally salt the bird use a little more salt than you think you need. Stuff the cavity with the herbs. Let the duck sit out for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

When you are ready to roast, put the duck on an iron frying pan or other ovenproof pan (dutch oven) and surround it with root vegetables. Set the pan in the oven. Cook 1 hour. Take the pan out of the oven and set the duck on a cutting board to rest. Spoon any fat that has accumulated over the vegetables and salt them well. If the vegetables are ready to eat, remove them. If there is a lot of excess fat, spoon it off.

Now turn the heat up to 450°F. When the oven hits this temperature, roast the duck for 15 to 20 more minutes, or until the skin is crisp. The reason you take the bird out of the oven is because a) the resting time helps redistribute the juices in the bird midstream, and b) you are crisping skin without totally overcooking the duck by only returning it to the oven when it is hot.

Remove from oven and let the birds rest for 10 minutes.

Duck goes well with fruity tangy sides. Serve with cumberland sauce or plumb sauce.


1 x 1.6-1.75 kg (3½-4 lb) duck, fresh or frozen
1.2 l (2 pints) water
150ml (¼ pint) Chinese black rice vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
3 tbsp malt/maltose sugar (or honey)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1½ tbsp coarse salt
2½ tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp roasted ground Sichuan peppercorns
To serve:
Chinese Pancakes
24 spring onions, cut into brushes (see below)
6 tbsp Hoisin sauce (or sweet bean sauce)

The Perfect Roasted Duck

The original Peking Duck is slathered and basted with a sweet/salty liquid of soy sauce and honey. I opted to simply season the duck with salt and pepper. Why make it any more complicated than than, when the duck itself has such incredible flavor?

I&rsquom using our outdoor wood-fired grill from Memphis Grills, which acts as our outdoor oven. Yes, it&rsquos wood-fired! We use 100% hardwood wood pellets that fuel the grill. It&rsquos cleaner and healthier than charcoal and gives everything we cook a natural wood-fired taste.

You can roast your duck in your oven or out in your BBQ grill. The most foolproof method of cooking duck is low and slow to keep the meat moist and tender &mdash and then finish off with a blast of high heat to crisp up the skin.

Whole Roast Duck with Hoisin Sauce

Editor's Note: There are some truly delicious duck recipes out there, but none of them tops the classic Chinese recipes for Peking duck. This Whole Roast Duck with Hoisin Sauce recipe tastes even better than something you'd find at a Chinese food restaurant, and it's easy to make at home, too! You don't need to be a professional chef to recreate this Chinese cuisine.

If you're planning a get-together with family and friends, then you will definitely want to impress everyone by making this recipe. Whether you're celebrating a milestone birthday or other big event, you can make any occasion even more special by including this recipe on the menu.

Recipe Course Main Course


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1 / 4 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 1 / 4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 Pekin (Long Island) duck (5 to 6 pounds), giblets removed (see Notes)
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec (or you can substitute orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


Trim and season the duck: In a mortar or spice grinder, grind the salt, garlic, zest, coriander seeds, five-spice powder, and pepper into a coarse paste.

Make 20 to 30 small slits in the duck skin, using a sharp paring knife held parallel to the surface so that you pierce the skin and fat without cutting into the meat. Be sure to make slits on the back and thighs as well as the breast. Rub about two thirds of the spice mixture into the duck cavity and then rub what remains all over the skin. Set the duck on a rack set over a baking sheet and allow to air-dry in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

Heat the oven: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (300 degrees F convection). Let the duck sit at room temperature as the oven heats.

Roast the duck: Arrange the duck breast down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan (about 12 by 14 inches) and roast for 1¼ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon or pour off most of the fat. (A turkey baster can make this job easier.) Using sturdy tongs inserted in the duck’s cavity, flip the duck over. Pierce the skin again all over the breast and legs with a knife. Return the duck to the oven to continue roasting until the meat around the thighs feels tender when prodded (a skewer should penetrate the thigh with no resistance), the legs feel loose in their joints, and an instantread thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) registers 175 degrees F, another 1 to 1¼ hours. (You can roast the duck a day ahead to this point see Notes)

Glaze and blast the duck: Remove the duck from the oven and increase the oven temperature, preferably to 500 degrees F convection, if you have it, or to 525 degrees F standard. In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, orange liqueur, honey, and sesame oil. Carefully transfer the duck (on the roasting rack) to a rimmed baking sheet. Paint the breast and legs with about half the glaze and return the duck to the hot oven. Paint again after 5 minutes, and continue roasting until crispy and mahogany-colored, about 3 minutes in a convection oven, 5 minutes in a standard oven.

Let rest and carve: Transfer the duck to a carving board, ideally one with a trough, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Carving a duck is much like carving a small version of a goose, so you can refer to the directions in Notes. Be sure each person gets both breast meat and a thigh or leg.

You can use the preseasoning and slow roasting method from the Whole Roast Duck with Hoisin Sauce recipe with just about any flavors you like, including just simple salt and pepper. Just be sure to use at least 1 tablespoon of salt per bird in the presalting step. Follow the trimming and roasting instructions (steps 1-3). Omit the glaze, but do give the duck that final blast of heat to brown it beautifully.

A Restaurant Make-Ahead Trick for Whole Roast Duck:

I learned a great make-ahead trick for roast duck—really for any roast bird— from Boston Chef Jody Adams. Things move quickly in a busy restaurant kitchen, and as Jody says, “It’s hell to break down a whole duck when it’s hot for service.” So Jody and her cooks roast the ducks a day in advance. Then, before the customers arrive, they can calmly carve the ducks while cool (both the ducks and the cooks who are just starting dinner service). The ducks get portioned, and then when an order comes in, the portions are blasted in the hot oven to heat and crisp them up. This is a great technique for the home cook to keep in mind, especially for stress-free entertaining.

In the case of Whole Roast Duck with Hoisin Sauce, follow the recipe through step 3. After roasting, let the duck cool at room temperature (without glazing). Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To serve, carve the duck into pieces and put them skin side up on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Heat the oven to 500 degrees convection (525 degrees standard if you don’t have convection). Let the duck sit at room temperature as the oven heats. Slide the duck into the oven and heat for 5 minutes, then brush with about half the glaze. Continue heating, brushing again with glaze after another 5 minutes. Expect carved pieces of cold duck to take 10 to 15 minutes to heat through and get crisp.

Shopping for Duck:

Whole Duck: Long Island duck, sometimes called Pekin, is the most widely available duck variety and can be found in most well-stocked markets. Fortunately, this popular breed makes fine eating, and its generous size (5 to 6 pounds) provides enough rich, dark meat to serve 4 people. Some producers apply the term duckling to their birds, but this is merely a marketing ploy meant to underscore their tenderness. Long Island ducks are a fast-growing breed that come to market at a young age, not more than 8 weeks, so whether the duck is labeled duck or duckling, you can expect the same tender, fatty bird. In most markets, look for whole ducks in the freezer section when handled properly, freezing does nothing to diminish the quality of the meat. To defrost, leave the duck in its original wrapping, place it on a baking dish to catch any drips, and allow 2 full days in the refrigerator to defrost.

Some specialty markets and mail-order sources carry other breeds, such as the Muscovy, a smaller, leaner duck. I prefer the larger Long Island ducks, because when I roast a duck, I want enough meat to serve a small dinner party-which to me means at least 4 people. If you’re the sort of cook who roasts a whole duck for 2 people, by all means seek out one of these smaller birds.

Duck Breast: Duck breasts, often labeled by their French name, magrets, can be found fresh or frozen in specialty markets and many upscale supermarkets and through mail-order sources. They are typically sold in vacuum packages of one or two to the pack. Unlike chicken, with which we face the choice among bone-in, boneless, skin on, and skinless, duck breasts are always sold boneless and skin-on. The most commonly available come from Moulard (or Mullard) ducks, the larger of the two species commercially available. (Long Island, or Pekin, is the second type, and is more often sold whole see Whole Duck, above.) Moulard has a more robust, beefier flavor than Long Island, and I find its heftier size works perfectly for the sear-roasting technique in my recipe. On occasion I have seen a third variety of duck breast, those from Muscovy ducks, a smaller, South American breed (sometimes called Barbarie). Muscovy ducks share characteristics of the Moulard and Long Island in that they are robust and beefy like the former but smaller like the latter. Not all markets, however, specify species. The best way to tell is by size: If the breast is in the 12- to 14-ounce range, it’s Moulard. If by chance you come across a smaller breast (around 8 ounces), it’s Long Island.

Wild Duck: If you are a hunter, or friendly with any duck hunters, you know that wild ducks differ dramatically from their plump, fatty, domesticated counterparts. The few times I’ve been the benefactor of a hunter’s bounty, I’ve received dressed ducks weighing as little as 8 ounces and none more than 2 pounds. The best way to roast these lean, bony birds is to brush them with some kind of fat (butter or oil) or wrap them in bacon and roast at relatively high heat (450 degrees) until the breast meat is rosy pink, about 30 minutes. (The slow-roast method I advocate for farm-raised ducks would leave wild duck dried out.) Let the ducks rest for 10 minutes or so, then carve off the breast and serve. The thighs are too tough and stringy to eat as is, so transfer them to a small covered pot with a little bit of broth and braise them in a 300-degree oven until they are tender, another hour or so. They make a fine lunch the next day, or the basis for pasta sauce.

More About Roast Duck

I love Peking duck, the kind you get at Chinese restaurants with its super-crispy skin and the accompanying paper-thin pancakes and hoisin sauce for wrapping it in. I love it so much that I thought I would recreate the dish at home for this book. I knew that authentic Peking duck requires a lengthy preparation process, including a step that involves stringing the duck up in front of a fan for a period of time, but I was gung-ho. At least at first. I went through the rigmarole of blanching a whole duck several times, then hanging it on my screen porch for hours to dry, and finally glazing it multiple times before roasting. In the end I was exhausted, and the results weren’t measurably better than what I can get from my favorite Chinese restaurant. I decided to rethink what I was really after, which is this: incredibly crackly, crisp skin and the sweet Asian accent of the hoisin sauce.

Taking a cue from my roast chicken recipes, I decided to try presalting the duck to get that crisp skin. Though this takes some planning ahead—the seasoned duck needs at least 24 hours in the refrigerator—it’s much easier, and less unsightly, than hanging a duck from the rafters. The duck then slow-roasts in order to render its fat and cook the tougher leg meat to tender, braiselike perfection. I start with the duck breast side down, as this helps render some of the thick layer of fat under the skin. Prodigious pricking of the skin with a sharp knife also helps release this fat as it melts. As with Peking duck, the meat will almost be falling off the bone, and it will be moist and tender thanks to the natural basting from the bird’s own fat.

After carving, I like to serve each person a bit of breast meat and dark meat, rounding out the meal with steamed rice and crisp-tender stir-fried bok choy. For a full on Peking duck experience, chop or shred the roasted duck into bite-size pieces, making one platter of tender meat and another of crispy skin. Serve with warm Chinese pancakes (also called Mandarin pancakes and available in Chinese markets), chopped scallions, sliced cucumbers, and more hoisin. You can also take the minimalist route and enjoy the simple goodness of plain slow-roasted duck by following the directions in Notes.

If you're looking for more poultry recipes, then you will want to see this free eCookbook! Grilled chicken, chicken stir-fry, and so many more chicken recipes can be found in these 13 Easy Chicken Recipes for Dinner and Beyond

Clean duck. Wipe dry and tie a string around neck.

Hang duck in cool, windy place 4 hours.

Fill a large wok with 8 cups water. Bring to boil. Add ginger, scallion, honey, vinegar, and sherry. Bring to boil. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water and pour it into the wok. Stir constantly.

Place duck in a large strainer above the larger bowl. Scoop boiling mixture all over duck for about 10 minutes.

Hang duck again in cool, windy place for 6 hours until thoroughly dry.

Place duck breast side up on a greased rack in oven preheated to 350 F. Set a pan filled with 2 inches of water in the bottom of the oven and roast 30 minutes.

Turn duck and roast 30 minutes more. Turn breast side up again. Roast 10 minutes more.

Use a sharp knife to cut off the crispy skin. Serve meat and skin immediately on a pre-warmed dish.

The duck is eaten hot with hoisin sauce rolled in Mandarin crepes. Garnish with scallion flowerets.

How to Make Peking Duck at Home (From Scratch!) | The Food Lab

Describe something to me as golden brown and crisp, and I'm as happy as a lion who's discovered that his cage door is unlocked just before the zoo opens. Add the word "duck" to that phrase, and I'm the same lion who's discovered that not only is his door open, but it happens to be "free admission if your pants are stuffed with ground gazelle day."

And does anything get golden browner, crispier, or duckier than Peking duck? When properly prepared, the deeply flavored skin should crackle and crunch with the slightest touch of your teeth, and the meat (more of an afterthought, really) should be moist, tender, and flavorful. Wrapped in ultra-thin Mandarin-style pancakes with scallions, crisp cucumber, and a smear of sweet and pungent Hoisin or plum sauce,* it's like a Chinese burrito whose flavor is belied by its diminutive nature.

Of course, getting a decent version—even at a restaurant—can be a chore. Places that do do it well generally require at least a day of advanced notice. Why, you might ask? The preparation is intensely complex, that's why.

  • Day one: Slaughter duck. Dress, eviscerate, and rinse. Remove neck bone without breaking skin. Tie neck skin in knot. Apply maltose/soy sauce coating to skin. Hang overnight to dry.
  • Day two: Use straw to inflate duck skin like a balloon to separate from meat. Blanch duck quickly in boiling water to tighten skin and begin rendering fat. Apply more maltose/soy mixture. Hang overnight to dry again.
  • Day three: Roast duck while hanging vertically in wood-fired brick oven. Roast until rendered fat from under skin has completely dripped out of duck, basting meat and rendering skin crackly crisp. Serve immediately.

It's hardly an afternoon project, and to be honest, my goal here is not to try and cheat my way to a vastly simpler preparation. I would, however, like to discover a way to streamline the recipe as much as possible, while still achieving the same goals. Should be easy as duck soup, right?

Duck vs. Duck

First order of business: make sure I've got the right duck for the job. Traditionally, the Pekin breed from Nanjing is the duck of choice. With its smalls stature, deep flavor, and relatively low-fat skin, it's the ideal candidate for ultimate crispness (the more fat you've got, the harder it is to render it all out to a crisp state). Luckily, most of the ducks available in this country are variants of that breed. But are all Pekin ducks created equally?

According to Bob Ambrose of Labelle Farms, not so. According to him, the longer a duck takes to grow to full size, the richer the flavor. Chilling is also a factor. Most ducks (and chickens, for that matter) are rapidly chilled after slaughter by dunking them in an ice water bath. At the supermarket, the ducks can contain up to 10% extra water weight, making them less flavorful, and harder to crisp properly.

Air-chilled birds, on the other hand, retain no extra water weight. I know that air-chilling makes a significant difference when it comes to chicken (try a regular Tyson or Perdue chicken against a Bell & Evans and you'll see what I mean), but does the same apply to duck?

I had Bob send me one of his Alina ducks, a French Pekin breed that takes about three weeks longer to grow to full size than the six weeks that a traditional Long Island Pekin duck is allowed to mature. The ducks are also air-chilled.

Straight up, there were some immediate differences. The air-chilled duck (on the left) was dry to the touch, with tight, dark colored skin, while the water-chilled duck (on the right) was pale in comparison, with a sponge-like texture. I roasted the ducks side by side in the same oven with nothing but a little salt and pepper and fed them to nine tasters in a blind taste-test. While both ducks were reasonably crisp, the air-chilled duck was significantly more so. Flavor and texture-wise, it also trounced the water-chilled duck, with a more intense, ducky flavor akin to squab. Out of nine tasters, seven picked the Alina duck as their favorite.

Air-chilled it would be.

Under The Skin

So what's the key to crisp skin? Three different things have to happen.

First, all the moisture must be driven off. Until all the internal moisture is evaporated, it's impossible to get the skin to a sufficiently high temperature to brown properly, which brings us to the second thing: Browning. The skin must brown slowly, developing flavor, and crisping up in the process. Finally, the fat must render and drain. If the liquid fat is trapped in or near the skin, it will quickly become soggy again as soon as it starts to cool. If all three of these criteria are met, what remains is a protein-based matrix packed with the flavorful products of browning reactions.

So the first step to getting really crisp skin is dehydration. Much as I'd like to be able to make Peking duck in a single day, the best way to dry the skin is to allow the duck to air dry, uncovered, overnight in the refrigerator. Here's another trick: Back when I was searching out a method to make the Ultimate Oven-Fried Buffalo Wings, I discovered that applying a coat of baking powder mixed with salt to the skin before allowing it to dry out resulted in extra crispness.

The baking powder accomplishes this goal in two ways. First, it's slightly basic. By raising the pH, browning reactions occur more efficiently. Secondly, the high pH weakens peptide bonds in the skin, creating more fault lines and rendering the skin ultra crisp and crackly. Would applying this same rub to my Peking work the same magic? I answered that question the only way I know how: by doing it. Fortunately, the answer is an emphatic yes

In addition to the salt and baking powder rub, I also applied a mixture of maltose and soy sauce. Available at Chinese supermarkets, maltose is a sugar molecule formed by linking two glucose molecules (regular sugar is made with a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule). Unlike table sugar, it doesn't granulate, making it easy to spread over the duck. It is, unfortunately, really sticky, messy stuff. The key to working with it is to get your hands wet and to pick up handfuls of it rapidly. Try microwaving a small amount of it along with soy sauce for an easily spreadable syrup you can then rub over the duck with your bare hands. By the time the maltose had time to dry overnight, the duck had taken on a tanned, burnished look that cooked to the familiar deep mahogany color in the oven.

I tried using sugar syrup, maple syrup, and honey as well in case you can't find maltose. Honey was the best substitute, though it was a little sweeter, due to the addition of fructose.

The next key to crisp skin is fat rendering. While heat alone will cause fat to render, unless that fat has some means of draining away, it's no use. This is accomplished by two means. First, the skin is inflated via a straw inserted into the duck cavity. This causes it to pull away from the meat, giving it a channel to drip out of. Second, the duck is cooked by hanging vertically in a hot oven. As the fat renders, it drips out and away from the bottom cavity of the duck, leaving the skin crisp and relatively fat-free.

In order to get rid of the stretch marks caused by the inflation, the ducks are dipped in boiling water briefly, which quickly tightens the skin back up (The channels for rendering fat between the skin and meat still remain).

So how does one replicate these steps at home?

The first part is easy: Rather than inflate the duck (I tried it with no success with a bicycle pump), just pull the skin away from the meat using your fingers and the handle of a wooden spoon. I discovered that really, the most important part is getting the skin away from the breast meat, and from around the joint where the thigh meets the body. It's really very easy to do—just stick your fingers in there and slowly work your way through the cavity.**

For the boiling phase, I wanted to figure out a method that wouldn't require me to lug out the lobster pot. My five-quart stock pot is not quite big enough to dunk a whole duck into. So rather than bring the duck to the water, why not just bring the water to the duck, I thought?

I placed the duck on a rack (yes, it's an IKEA dish rack) in the sink and simply poured the hot water over it, making sure to get it on all sides and inside the cavity. The skin immediately shrunk and tightened around the duck, just like my latex superman suit does when I sit too long in the tanning booth.

Traditionally, the duck needs to be air-dried a second time before entering the oven, but here's what I was thinking: that water is boiling hot, and most of it goes straight down the drain into the sink. Surely, whatever's left should evaporate fast enough that it won't have time to be re-absorbed into the duck skin, right? Indeed it does.

By weighing the duck at all stages in the process, I found that during the overnight rest, it loses about 10% of its weight through moisture loss. If I follow the prescribed method and allow the duck to rest the second night after boiling, it ends up losing only an additional 1% of its weight—hardly worth the fuss, I think. Roasting the duck immediately after pouring boiling water over it confirmed this suspicion: The second rest makes very little difference to the finished product.

So what about roasting it vertically? My thoughts immediately gravitated to beer cans (as they are wont to do). Specifically, beer can chicken.

If you're not familiar with the method, it involves jamming a chicken on top of an open, half-drunk bottle of beer, then chucking the whole thing on the grill. The idea is that the beer will slowly steam, keeping the chicken meat moist and flavorful while simultaneously allowing the chicken to cook evenly from all sides.

Like many good-sounding ideas, this one is totally bunk. To prove it, I cooked three chickens side by side in the same oven. One was stuck on a beer can half-full of beer, the second was stuck on a beer can which I had emptied and re-filled with dried beans (to offer the weight with none of the liquid), and the third was jammed on a can that I filled with the most revolting liquid I could think of: Lipton's Brisk Iced Tea.

After roasting, I carefully removed the cans and fed them to new Serious Eats intern Carly in a blind tasting. Asides from the small part of the chicken which I had accidentally poured beer on while removing the bottle, the three were completely indistinguishable, both in flavor and in texture. Weighing the pre and post cooking confirmed that moisture-wise, all three birds lost exactly the same amount, regardless of whether there was liquid or not inside the can.

Moral: Next time you cook a beer can chicken, drink all the beer first and fill up that can with water. You'll be saving beer, which is always a noble goal.

So what's the real advantage of cooking on a beer can? Positioning. By keeping the bird vertical, just like it is in a traditional oven, the fat and juices drip out the bottom as it cooks, leading to perfectly rendered, lacquered skin.

Wrapping it Up

Now that I had all of my ducks in a row, the only step remaining was to make the Mandarin pancakes. No real innovation here, as the method is already so cool as is.

The idea is that by using a rolling pin, you can only get a flour dough rolled out so thin. But rather than rolling out one ball of dough at a time, if you instead stack two balls and roll them together, you can get each on down to half the thickness you'd be able to otherwise.

The only trick is getting them to be easily separate-able post-cooking. You accomplish this by brushing the top of one with a bit of sesame oil before stacking the second on top of it. The oil not only keeps them separated like layers of puff pastry, but it gently flavors them with its aroma as well.

The dough is made with a standard wonton-style hot water dough. Adding boiling water to flour helps develop gluten really rapidly, creating a silky smooth dough that's a cinch to roll out and a pleasure to work with. After rolling, they just require a quick stop in a hot skillet, where they puff up and turn spotty brown.

Afterwards, all you've gotta do is.

. gently split them apart. If you're really lazy, you can just use flour tortillas. I've been to restaurants that do it. Not good restaurants, but restaurants nonetheless.

As for the garnishes, cucumber and scallion, both sliced thin are a must. Hoisin sauce is the traditional condiment, but it's the middle of plum season right now, so how could I resist making a quick and easy plum sauce? To deepen the flavor and add some savory notes to the beautiful Italian prune plums I bought from the farmer's market, I based my sauce on a dark caramel gastrique, adding a splash of soy sauce, chili, ginger, and vinegar to the mix.

So tell me seriously: after all that, can you think of anything you'd rather be eating right now than a crispy Chinese duck soft taco?. I've gone through a half dozen ducks this week working on this recipe, and I still am craving it.

The only part of the Peking duck that's missing now that I don't have to go out to a restaurant to get it is the bill,*** and that's the only part I could live without!

*I understand the gringo blasphemy of using plum sauce, but it's plum season, and what the heck—it's delicious. **um. that's what she said? ***sorry for the bad joke. Stupid puns just quack me up.

Eat Authentic Beijing Duck on Our Beijing Tours

Enjoying Chinese food in a local restaurant.

Our Beijing tours , almost without exception, include a chance to eat roast duck. On a tour with us to China, we'll take you to the Beijing Duck restaurant that our expert guides think would be best for you in the cities you travel to.

Our Private 4-Day Emperor's Tour of Beijing will take you on a journey back to Imperial times. You’ll visit the key residences of the Emperors’, learning about life during the various dynasties and feasting on imperial dishes including roast duck.

If you want to taste authentic Chinese food, see our most recommended Chinese food tour below for inspiration:

  • 12-Day Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guilin, and Hong Kong Cuisine Tour - explore the most popular destinations in China and savor local Chinese food (including Peking duck) in each city.

Or contact us and let us create a China tour for you according to your interests and requirements.

Watch the video: How to make Peking Duck Beijing Roast Duck (July 2022).


  1. Everard

    Unfortunately, I can help nothing. I think, you will find the correct decision.

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  5. Ceapmann

    It seems to me that the idea in this article is not fully disclosed. Author, can you add something to this?

  6. Nekus

    strongly disagree with the previous sentence

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