Homemade Peking Duck 北京烤鸭běi jīng kǎo yā

Simply using oven and a few tricks, we can certainly make the famous Peking duck in our home kitchen. Though preparation takes more than 24 hours, the active cooking time is much less. And you get to enjoy this gorgeous, restaurant-quality Peking duck at home. The thin and crispy skin is nicely separate from the duck meat. Serve the skin or/and meat with sugar or sweet bean sauce as a dip. Keep the carved duck or the remainder of the roast duck to make a tasty soup for your next meal.

You will need to have one particular ingredient, maltose麦芽糖, help achieve the gorgeous skin color. Maltose is a very thick liquid sugar made from sprouted grains such as barley. It is less sweet than corn syrup but much sticker and firmer. It is used widely in Chinese disserts and sweets. It is available in small plastic tubs in Chinese grocery stores or Amazon. Maltose must be heated before it can be scooped into measuring spoons. This can be done in the microwave on low power in short bursts, or by placing the tub in a bowl of hot water.

Ingredients

  • I duck, about 5 lbs
  • 3 tablespoons                   maltose 麦芽糖
  • 3 tablespoons                    hot water
  • 1 teaspoon white rice vinegar, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon    China five spice powder五香粉
  • 1/3 teaspoon                     salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon     black peppercorn powder, optional
  • 1 tablespoon,                     Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 loaf of bread, soaked with water

Equipment

  • a roast pan with rack OR a baking tray and baking cooling rack
  • an empty wine bottle and a pastry brush

To enjoy the duck

  • Peking duck pancakes, click here for how to make your own pancakes
  • sweet bean paste甜面酱
  • English or mini cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • Leek or spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced

Method

Preparation (start 24 hours earlier)

  1. Tuck an empty wine bottle into the cavity of duck and set the duck upright. Heat up a pot of water. Pour the hot water into a heat-proof water pitcher or a large bowl. The water should be about 70C°/140F°. Pour the hot water all over the duck skins include the skins inside the legs and wings.

2. Scoop three tablespoons of maltose into a bowl (you may find Maltose is sticky or too firm. If so, you can soften the syrup by placing the container of the maltose in a bowl of hot water 5 minutes ahead of time.) Add three tablespoons of water into the water. Mix it well. Or place the bowl into microwave on low power for about 1 minute. Add a teaspoon of white rice vinegar.

3. Use a pastry to brush diluted syrup all over the duck skins include insides of the legs and wings. Leave the duck in room temperature for 30 minutes. Then repeat the brushing process by using up all your syrup. Clear a space in the fridge. Place the duck in the fridge overnight (no less than 24 hours.)

Roasting the duck (this takes about a total of 3 to 4 hours)

  1. Heat up the oven to 360F°/180C°. Line up the roasting pan with two layers of aluminum foil (this makes cleaning work easier!).

2. In a bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of five spice powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and black peppercorn powder and 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine. Place the duck on the roasting rack with breast facing up. Soak a loaf of bread in the water.

3. Brush the cavity of the bird with the liquid. Tuck the soaked bread into the cavity of the duck. Wrap the legs and wings with aluminum foil – this prevents this leaner part of the meat from burning during the slow roasting process. Place the roasting pan into the lower rack of the oven. Close the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. Turn down the oven heat to 250F°/125C°. Tent the duck with aluminum foil. Bake for 2.5 hours to 3 hours. The roasting time depends on the size of your bird. Add 10 to 12 minutes for each additional pound.

5. Heat up the oven to 360F°/180C°.  In the meantime, carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven – the pan is hot so not to burn yourself. Use a spoon or fork to remove the bread from the duck. Remove the aluminum foil from the legs – but still leave the wings and bones part of legs. Place the roasting pan back to the oven – depending how deep the skin color looks like now. To prevent the skins from darkening, you can tent the duck again with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

6. The duck is ready to serve now.

How to cut the duck

  1. Once the duck is out from oven, rest the duck for 5 minutes. Then cut a line around the beast. Use the tip of your knife to remove the half of the breast with the skin on. Slice the duck breast into a bite size piece. Continue to work on the other piece of the breast.

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