Shanghai-Style Salted Duck

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This dish really involves curing the duck in brine, much like a sort of ‘duck ham’. I first had this as part of a cold-cut plate in Shanghai and loved it. I use it in the restaurant in salads, sliced over some pickled cabbage and drizzled with chilli oil, or on its own with a chilli or dipping sauce.

A great cold-cut plate to have as a starter for 6–8 people would feature this duck, a master-stock chicken, tea eggs and some pickled cabbage. Just fry some wontons and have a couple of dipping sauces on the side and you’re ready to serve.


  • 1 × 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) duck, wing tips and tail removed
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) salt
  • 6 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, roasted
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into 4 cm ( inch) lengths
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • fresh chilli sauce, to serve
  • hoisin sauce, to serve


Put the salt, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, shaoxing, spring onions, ginger and 7 litres water in a pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes to make the brine.

Wash the duck inside and out and pat dry with paper towel. Remove the fat from the cavity and pierce the skin all over with a fork. Lower the duck into the brine and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the duck to cool in the brine (you may need to put a plate on top of it to ensure it is completely submerged at all times). Transfer the pot to the fridge for 24 hours.

Lift the duck out of the brine, chop Chinese-style and serve cold with chilli sauce and hoisin sauce as accompaniments.


By all means, use duck breasts if you prefer — they’re easier, but not quite as authentic. Place them in the boiling brine, cook for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and cover. Leave overnight to cure.