Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Crispy Aromatic Duck

If I hadn't named this blog Notes of Bacon, I would have definitely gone for 'Notes of Crispy Duck'. By that I mean that crispy aromatic duck, the westernised sister of the Peking duck, is, for me, up there with bacon. Alongside all other crispy meat.

If you are reading this thinking 'aren't Peking duck and Crispy duck the same thing?' then you are not alone and please, fret not, for I will enlighten you on the differences.

Peking duck is a famous Beijing duck dish, which involves lengthy preparation of air-drying the duck. The dish is prized for it's deeply flavoured, sweet, crisp, oily skin which is often served separately to the rest of the duck, and sometimes eaten with pancakes. It is often sliced and never shredded.

Crispy aromatic duck, as you know (and love) it, has South China influences but from my knowledge (better not trust it), has actually been developed in the UK somewhere near the end of the twentieth century. You will be able to find a detailed description of how to cook it below (I do hope that's why you're here) but as I'm sure you know, the duck ends up delightfully crispy with succulent, shredded meat, and devoured wrapped in Chinese pancakes accompanied by plum or hoisin sauce, shredded spring onion and cucumber batons.

As an all time favourite dish of mine, I feel so proud of myself for making it at home and am absolutely astounded as to why I have never done so before. So unbelievably easy. Go buy yourself some duck legs.

Crispy Aromatic Duck

I like using duck legs rather than a whole duck as I feel it helps with portions and gives everyone equal access to the crispy bits!

Quantities: 4 - 6 (depending on how hungry you are)

Prep: 2 hours - overnight for marination
Cooking: 2 hours 

Kitchen Stuff: Large roasting pan, steamer or microwave for your pancakes

duck legs
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp salt

To serve: 
Chinese pancakes (can buy frozen in Asian supermarkets)
Hoisin sauce or plum sauce
6 - 10 shredded spring onions 
1 cucumber, cut into thin batons


1. SPICE & SALT: Prick the duck legs all over with a sharp knife, the holes poked in the skin allow the fat to drain and the skin to crisp up. Mix the five spice, crushed Sichuan peppercorns and salt together and rub it all over the duck legs. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. 

2. CHINESE WINE: Heat your oven to 170° C. Remove the duck legs from the fridge at least half an hour before cooking and leave them to come back to ambient temperature. Gently pat the legs dry with some kitchen towel to remove moisture.

Place the duck legs in a large roasting pan and pour over the soy sauce and Chinese wine. 

Place a baking dish filled with water in the oven to steam the duck during roasting - this will result in a crispy skin and soft, succulent meat and will prevent it from drying out Put your duck legs in the top third of the oven. 

3. ROAST: Roast the duck legs for 1 hour at 170° C then turn down the heat to 150° C and roast for another hour.  

4. ASSEMBLE & EAT: Once the legs are done, lift them out of the roasting tray and leave to cool for a few minutes whilst you steam your pancakes (or microwave them!). Serve them warm with all the trimmings.

Using two forks, shred your duck leg. To assemble each pancake, add a dollop of hoisin sauce, some shredded duck, a few cucumber batons and a sprinkling of shredded spring onion. Roll it up and eat. Repeat. Enjoy. 

So easy and my gosh is it delish!

LEFTOVERS: If you have leftover duck legs, pop them in the fridge. When you're ready to eat, shred them, sprinkle with a little more five spice, fry until re-crisped in a little vegetable and sesame oil, and add them to a stir fry with rice or noodles. Delish!