There’s a saying that you haven’t truly been to China if you haven’t seen the Great Wall and eaten Peking duck. These days, you can get an authentic Peking duck experience in Australia – read our guide to 10 of the best Peking duck restaurants – but for keen cooks, why not try this Chinese masterpiece at home? It requires a bit of preparation (it’s best to start it a day in advance), but the effort will be worth it when you pull your glossy, lacquered duck from the oven.
2-2.25kg duck, rinsed, dried, trimmed of excess fat
1 tsp each salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns
3 star anise
2 strips pared orange rind
200g maltose or honey
2½ tbs rice vinegar
2½ tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs shaoxing rice wine
Peking pancakes, spring onion, cucumber batons and hoi sin sauce to serve
1. Gently slide your fingers under the duck skin to loosen. If desired, insert a straw or a bicycle pump and inflate to create an air pocket – this technique is designed to help crisp skin the skin and render the fat.
2. Secure legs with kitchen string. Place in a large pot then cover with boiling water. Stand for 10 seconds, then drain. Repeat process five times.
3. Combine spices, star anise and orange zest and sprinkle inside the duck cavity. Transfer duck to a wire rack set over a roasting pan.
4. Heat maltose of honey in a pan over low heat with 1 tsp boiling water to loosen if necessary. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce and rice wine, then brush glaze over the duck until completely covered.
5. Leave the duck, uncovered, in the fridge overnight, or place on the bench for 3-4 hours with a fan blowing on it until the skin has dried out. The process of glazing and drying is traditionally repeated over a number of days, but for this home version we’ve kept it to once.
6. Preheat oven to 240°C. Pour ¼ cup cold water into the base of the pan. Roast duck for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C and roast for 1¼ hours until cooked through. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Carve the duck into 1cm-thick slices on an angle, then serve the crisp-skinned duck with Peking pancakes, spring onion, cucumber batons and hoi sin sauce.
Once you’ve mastered this recipe, try these four creative ways to serve Peking duck.
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