Incredible crunchy skin and juicy meat: the secrets to making a perfect peking duck

  • Cook Time
    13 hours 30 mins
  • Serving
    1
  • Difficulty
    Hard

I’m sure everyone has tried or at least heard about the Peking duck. It can even be considered a delicacy with a rich history and delicious taste, which is a mixture of the sweet, crisp duck and its tender roast meat. Peking duck is now served in thousands of restaurants around the world, and evidence of roast duck cooking in China dates back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589). The dish gained great popularity during the Ming dynasty, about 600 years ago. Then chefs from all over China flocked to Beijing to be able to cook for the Emperor. Only the best chefs got into the kitchen of the palace; it was incredibly prestigious to cook there. It is believed that in those days duck was the mainstay of the imperial menu. This recipe, along with many others, eventually spread throughout Beijing, and then around the world.

The recipe for cooking Peking duck is quite laborious and consists of many processes. For this recipe, a special type of ducks is grown with a special diet. An interesting stage of cooking is when air is pumped into the duck to separate the skin from meat and fat. Then the duck is hung up to dry in the open air, covered with a special syrup to make the skin especially crispy. And then they already cook in one of two common traditional ways – in a closed oven or in a suspended one. Ready-made duck is also served in a rather unusual way for us. The whole duck should be cut into 120 thin slices and served with thinly sliced cucumbers and green onions, light small pancakes and sauces, hoisin or legumes that complement the dish perfectly.

This is all very interesting, but how does one cook Peking duck at home? Having studied the history of the dish, it seems all but impossible. But I want to offer you a recipe that does not claim to be authentic, but you get a taste that is as close as possible to the traditional version. To get that famous crispy crust, we first use our hands to loosen the skin. When we then submerge the duck in hot oil, the skin loosened will become as crispy as possible. We will also prepare a brine for the duck, leave it in salted water with spices for 10-12 hours. The meat will be evenly salted, but will take only the right amount of salt and aroma of spices. I advise buying a duck with the neck still on, so it will be easier to deep-fry it.

How to cook a beijing duck

Ingredients

Incredible crunchy skin and juicy meat: the secrets to making a perfect peking duck: Directions

Step 1

Prep all of the ingredients for the Peking duck. You can set aside the oil for deep-frying, the honey and soy sauce for the time being, as we will need them in the second stage of cooking. And first, we will make a brine for the duck.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 2

Carefully loosen the duck skin. To do this, move your hand under the skin and gently pass along the entire carcass, separating all joints of the meat from the skin. I did it on one side, the breast side.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 3

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Dissolve the salt in it. Place the duck in a large bowl or container and cover with the salted water. Add the coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks and anise stars, they will release more aroma in the hot water. Leave the duck to steep in this brine for 10-12 hours at room temperature, preferably overnight. The duck should be completely submerged. If the duck is not completely submerged in the water, turn it over periodically. Or you can put something heavy on top to sink it into the brine.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 4

When enough time has passed, dry the duck thoroughly with a paper towel so that no moisture remains. Be sure to dry it on the outside and inside the carcass. This is to make sure it’s easier to deep-fry the duck later. Preheat the oven to 180C.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 5

Pour sunflower oil into a very large pot and heat it until you notice a light shimmer. The temperature of the oil can be checked by carefully immersing the duck leg: if the oil starts hissing, then the oil is hot enough and you can proceed to the next step.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 6

Submerge the duck in oil and deep fry it, holding it by the neck with heat-resistant oven mitts or just a towel. Be extremely careful, because the oil is extremely hot and there is a chance of getting burned. Fry it for about 15 minutes on all sides, until the duck has a light golden hue.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 7

Place the duck on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush over with a couple of tablespoons of honey and put in the hot oven. Bake using the convection setting for about half an hour.

peking duck
peking duck
Step 8

After 30 minutes, remove the duck and brush over with 4-5 tbsp of the soy sauce and return to the oven. Change the setting to grill. Keep baking until the duck has cooked through.

peking duck
peking duck
Cooking is easy!

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