Has anyone made Pekking Duck from scratch at home ????
Curious to know if anyones tried this and had success, or should we just go to the asian restaurants and save the headaches ??
Does anone know the method...?? We are addicts of this dish and there's a restaurant in Melbourne , Australia called flowerdrum that does the BEST duck...it costs a fortune though and it would be so great to master this delicacy ???
The bicycle pump works well for separating the skin from the meat which is they key. I use an inflating needle (the kind used to blow up a basketball) inserting at multiple points around the bird. I also use a counter top rotisserie to roast the duck. The skin gets very crispy evenly all around and the fat drips away so there is no smoke. I just let it cook till there is no fat dripping.
Been doing this for years.
I get fresh ducks and clean them. I recently have been using a bicycle pump to blow the duck skin apart from the meat, seems to work pretty well. I then hang them in a cool place for a few hours using hooks I purchased from a Chinese hardware store years ago, the kind you see hanging roast ducks in Chinatown.
Once the ducks are dry, I boil a poaching liquid in a wok. 6 cups water, a crushed scallion, 3 TBS honey, 2 TBS rice wine, 1 TBS vinegar, ginger slices with 3 TBS corn starch diluted in 1/4 cup hot water. I then dip each duck to coat and hang again for a few more hours.
I cook them standing up in a 350 oven over a pan of water (for steaming) for about 1 hr 20-30 min and serve with homemade Mandarin pancakes and a hoisin sauce sweetened with sugar and diluted in a pan over a low flame with water and sesame oil.
It's great to know that a bicycle pump works (I think I have one in the back of a closet somewhere ...). It's also interesting that you dip it between drying sessions. I also like the idea of cooking them standing up (I actually have a device for that - a sort of cone-shaped wire thingy). Yum! I think there's a Peking Duck in my immediate future!
The pump's a bit unwieldy but worth the effort. I think the dip further helps to separate the skin from the meat but the honey (which I forgot to include in the ingredient list originally but I have since added in the original post) helps to carmelize the skin. Very tasty and worth the time and effort.
I have never heard of the boiling water method and I have a recipe in one of my very authentic cookbook (so authentic I can't read it, but I have pictures). They basically inflate the bird to release the skin.
The way I have seen it done in both Beijing (they eat it with mandarin pancakes) and San Francisco's Chinatown (Cantonese influence so they eat it in like a bun (mantou-like)is that they pump it with air to release the skin, almost looking like an air pump for your tire. So I'm not sure if its really made for home preparation.
My grandma who actually learned to cook from my grandpa (in the restaurant business in Asia) was the best cook ever and she would buy the duck from Chinatown... at like a rotisserie place saves a lot of trouble and probably tastes better than anything you would make at home
Some things are better left to the pros
The boiling water and fan drying is all a substitution for the air pump, which the cookbook authors rightly assume most people won't have. The whole idea is to somehow get the skin to separate from the fat, so that hot air can circulate under the skin and the fat can more easily be melted away. I'm sure pricking holes all over would also help.
I have made perfect Peking Duck at home using this method - the equal to any I've had in a restaurant, in terms of crispiness and also taste. The only thing I can' do is serve the soup course immediately after the meal, since I don't have the last diner's duck carcass ready to prepare it from!
I make it about once a year. I use the recipe in the Chinese book of the Time-Life "Foods of the World" series, which calls for dipping the whole duck in a vat of boiling water to which has been added ginger and honey and other seasonings, then hanging it in front of a fan for about four hours until the skin is dry. It's an approximation of the traditional technique, but it works. I don't consider it any big deal - you just have to start early.
I've made it - once. Never again. It took 3 days to prepare and about 20 minutes to eat. You prep the bird as Simon said in his reply (boiling water), rub the skin with spices and maltose. The maltose is key to getting a good crispy skin with lots of flavor and color. Then you hang the duck to dry for 3 days. A hairdryer helps. So far, so good.
Now you have to roast the duck over high heat. The fat from the skin spatters off, covering the inside of your oven with burnt duck grease. My oven began to smoke from burning fat. Don't stop or your 3-day duck will be ruined. It takes over an hour of roasting before the duck is ready, and you have to baste etc. When it's ready, your kitchen has greasy soot on everything and you, your hair and all your clothes smell like duck fat. Now you're ready to carve and serve your duck, but you're exhausted, filthy and the smell of duck makes you feel ill.
Seriously, the professionals have specially designed ovens shaped like a barrel. The ducks are lowered in from the top and heated on all sides. The oven is used for nothing except roast meats - duck, pork, chicken etc. I assume the high heat will cook off the fat over time, or they have some way to clean the inside. After my one experience I spent some time researching the oven, there are instruction books which will tell you how to construct one if you've taken leave of your senses.
My duck tasted delicious. It was all gone in 20 minutes. It took a week to clean up.
I am never sure how echt my recipe is but I make this quite often and it is always a hit. I vary the marinade and baste depending on what I have.
The key to the crispy skin is to pierce the bird all over with a fork and then pour one or two kettles of boiling water over it which releases the skin from the flesh and allows much of the fat to drain off when cooking.
I then marinade for 24-48 hours in a mixture of soy, five spice, chinese rice wine and chilli sauce turning often and massaging the marinade into the skin
When ready to cook, Dry the bird well with kitchen towel , season with salt and pepper and place on a wire rack in a roasting dish. Cover with foil to prevent burning and add a little water to the pan
I cook the bird on a medium heat ( around 120c ) for about 1 1/2 hours turning twice and then remove the foil before cooking on a higher heat for a further 45mins (turning once so it finishes breast side up ). At this stage I baste in a mixture of soy, chilli, five spice powder and oyster sauce with a little honey which gives a great colour. The bird does not dry out and you get amazing crispy, crunchy skin which people fight over.
I do make pancakes sometimes but often use store bought from the chinese supermarket.
I always make my own plum sauce by cooking plums down with a little rice wine, five spice and sugar before passing though a sieve which leaves a thick, glistening sauce which cuts through the fatiness of the meat beautifully.
Strips of scallion and cucumber add the perfect crunch too.
As I say, I have no idea how authentic or otherwise, but it is dead easy and damn tasty
I always say go for it at least once. Get yourself a recipe you trust. You may find it's not worth the hassle in the future, but you'll be glad you gave it a go.
My mom made Peking Duck once when I was a kid. All I remember is the duck hanging to air dry in our bathroom for a day or two, and that I enjoyed that duck more than anything else she ever cooked.