Experiences - Asia

Must-eat in Beijing – Peking Duck

Beijing’s most renowned dish, Peking duck became famous during China’s imperial era. The dish is prized for its thin, crisp skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners by the cook.

Ducks bred specially for the dish are seasoned before being roasted in a closed or hung oven. The meat is eaten with scallions, cucumber and sweet bean sauce with pancakes rolled around the fillings. Sometimes pickled radish, and sauces such as hoisin sauce can be used.

Peking Duck in Beijing

Image Courtesy: Matt Kowalczyk used under the Creative Commons Licence

According to a Chinese saying, no visit to Beijing is complete if you miss seeing the Great Wall or feasting with a roast duck. As a famous and delicious food with a very long history, Beijing Roast Duck is an excellent choice if you want to understand more about Chinese cuisine, culture and customs. It is traditionally served with Mandarin pancakes, and green onions for brushing on the hoisin sauce.

The ducks were originally roasted in a conventional oven until Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) when roast ducks became a delicacy in the imperial menu and were highly regarded by emperors and other members of the ruling classes. The ducks used during this period were a special breed namely the White Beijing Duck and a new method of cooking was employed, by suspending the ducks over the flame in an open oven. These two traditional methods of cooking have resulted in the two major present day schools of roast duck preparation.

The initial method has been perpetuated by very few restaurants among which Bianyi Fang (Convenient and Comfortable) Restaurant, established in 1861, is the most famous. There serves roast duck with a well-preserved traditional flavor. The second method is relatively well-known and used with great success by the Quan Ju De Restaurant. Today, Quan Ju De means Beijing Roast Duck to many Chinese people as well as foreign visitors.

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