I love duck but I've never had Peking Duck. Usually, you have to order it in advance, and it's expensive. Should I try it, and why? Is it a different type of duck? I could just internet search, but I want to know from y'all what it tastes like.
Peking Duck, the dish served in Chinese style restaurants is what I consider an "entertainment dish". Usually the waitstaff prepares individual servings for the diner at the table.
PD is the crisp skin of a Chinese style roasted duck, served in a small flour tortilla or small steamed bun, seasoned with a dab of hosin sauce, dressed with some green onion.
If you enjoy crisp duck skin, you would like PD.
I think they are Long Island Ducks (common name), but when I called the local Chinese style deli to inquire, the person who answered the phone, said he didn't understand, and to call back after 3:00 (it is ~2:00).
I am not sure what I would order between roast duck and peking duck. Probably roast duck.
When I had Peking Duck in Hong Kong, here's how it was served:
First-- the waiter brought out the golden duck and presented slices of crispy skin on little buns or crepes with green onion and hoisin sauce. Then he took the carcass (with most of the meat) away.
Second-- we got a stirfried dish of veggies and mushrooms and the duck meat. It was a little greasy, but maybe that's just how they prepared it at the restaurant we were at.
Third-- we got some duck soup at the end that was supposedly made from the duck bones, but who really knows!
It was more of a presentation thing (as the previous poster said) than a transcendant food experience. The skin was the best part. Everything after that was pretty "eh".
Peking Duck is always at least two courses, often three or more if a soup dish is thrown in. A neighborhood Chinese restaurant near my parents' house (Torrance, CA) serves the skin/bun course, then the rest of the duck as a roast duck dish. It's delicious. And less than $10, a great deal.
The duck goes through a process of having its skin separated from the meat, then it's air dried. This takes a few days and takes up room which is why it's expensive here. Plus, most city health inspectors don't like the idea of poultry hanging in the air for a few days. The restaurant I spoke of rigged a large refrigerator so the ducks can be cold and air dried, but this increases the drying time to about 7 days, according to the owner.
I have been to Beijing several times to visit friends and they have taken me to restaurants all over the place (always in suburbs) to get Peking Duck; therefore, it is not my experience that the dish is only for entertainment in China. My worst experience there was in one of the outlets of the most famous PD chain restaurants, Quanjude. All the other ducks were fantastic.
I'm sure there is more than one way to air dry the duck - when I've done it - the process only takes hours / or overnight at most - not days. In the winter time when the air is dry - half a day could be enough - of course, this is with a fan on it. And I'm only doing one or two at a time and in my basement - very different from a restaurant with all those woks creating heat & steam. In any event, it's not as complicated a process as one might think. (more than a steak, tho)
re: gordon wing
My Father use to tell us that this duck was made in Peking in the day when there was a cooling wind from the north that dry the skin of the duck prior to roasting. I remind hang the duck is coldest room in the house and have a fan blowing on it while one else would walk around the house in heavy coats because we could not turn on the heater. Overnight was more than enough time. Hope Mrs. yimster does not read this post otherwise I know what I will be doing first thing next year.
Will need try to write down the recipe for the kids so it is not losed.
The other posters described the classical dish and how it is served. Tastewise, it has a somewhat more intense flavor (I'm talking strictly about the skin here) than the typical roasted duck hanging in the window in Chinatown. But the difference is not worth triple the price, IMO. And it's very easy to buy a "hanging duck", some moo-shu pancakes, scallions and hoisin sauce and make a reasonable fascimile.
I've heard that a particular breed of duck is used for this dish, it's supposed to be a little fattier, but I don't know specifics of the the breed.
In Cantonese places, you'll often have the skin served with hoisin sauce and sometimes wrapped in a steamed rice bun. At Northern Chinese places where it is native, a sweet complex fermented wheat sauce is used inside of hoisin and a wheat crepe is typical.
If you have Eat Drink Man Woman handy, I think there's a scene in the opening credits where the chef is cooking up a storm. At one point he puts a bamboo tube to a duck near the neck and blows. This is one step in the preparation of the duck and is done to separate the skin from the flesh.
Once while I was at the Central Market in Hong Kong I saw a couple of workers with a huge mound of ducks ready to be inflated. Instead of a piece of bamboo, they just picked up a duck and blew into the slit that was cut into the neck - talk about lung power! I prefer to use an air compressor (black & decker) or a bicycle pump.
Peking Duck is a breed of duck. Fortunately for us, it is the most popular breed in the US. It is usually prepared in the classic fashion, and the duck is served primarily as pieces of thinly sliced skin, with a layer of fat and meat attached. It is eaten in a type of very thin pancake, called a "po ping", or with steam buns (similar to bao) that pull into thin layers. It is usually eaten with hoisin sauce and green onion, altho some prefer "duck sauce". I find it delicious, but my wife does not care for it...so I guess it is a matter of taste. I never complain, since at banquets I always eat her duck.