Chinese Roast Duck

This is a classic and it’s really not as difficult as it sounds — just a few steps and away you go. You need to loosen the skin from the meat, blow the duck up with a bike pump, glaze the skin, dry the duck, fill the cavity with hot broth so it steams from within and roast — what could be easier!

There’s a reason it’s one of the most loved duck dishes in the world — it tastes bloody fantastic. You can take the skin and meat off the bone to serve with mandarin pancakes, hoisin, cucumber batons and spring onions; Peking duck in other words.

Ingredients

  • 1 × 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) duck, wing tips and tail removed
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan salt and pepper
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) fresh chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 50 g ( oz/¼ cup) crushed yellow rock sugar 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Maltose Mixture

  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) maltose
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/¼ cup) light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

Method

Remove the fat from the cavity of the duck. Put the bird breast-side-up on a chopping board, with the legs facing you. Massage the skin on the breasts and legs for about 5 minutes (this helps loosen the connecting tissue between the skin and the meat). Make a small slit in the skin. Carefully work a chopstick under the skin and down the breast and over the legs to loosen the skin without tearing it. Once the skin is loose, rub the meat of the duck (under the skin) with Sichuan salt and pepper and position the star anise and cinnamon sticks in between the meat and the skin.

Secure the rear cavity of the duck with a bamboo or metal skewer, as if you were sewing cloth together. Tie a double piece of string firmly around the top of the neck, above the slit, leaving one end long. Tie off the neck below the slit using a slip knot, and insert a drinking straw or the tube of a bicycle pump into the slit. Inflate the cavity you have made between the skin and the body of the duck and, when fully inflated, tighten the second string around the neck to make it airtight.

To make the maltose mixture, put the maltose, soy sauce, rice vinegar and 5 litres (20 cups) water into a large pot, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Holding onto the top string, submerge the duck for 20 seconds, breast-side-down, in the boiling maltose. Then, holding it above the maltose, baste the duck with the mixture for about 5 minutes until the skin tightens. Take care not to let the glaze become too dark or the duck will burn in the oven before it cooks. Drain the excess maltose from the duck and hang it to dry over a bowl in front of a fan for 3 hours. The skin should now feel like parchment.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) and put a roasting tin full of water on the bottom of the oven. Now bring the stock, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil to the boil in a large pot. Remove the skewer slightly from the rear of the duck, insert a funnel and carefully pour the boiling liquid into the cavity, securing the skewer tightly once again when this is done. Put the duck into the oven directly on the rack and in the tin of water, with its legs pointing towards the door. Roast for between 45 minutes and 1 hour. When cooked (the juices will run clear), remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes. Then remove the skewer, drain out the juice, strain and reserve.

To serve, chop the duck Chinese-style and pour the reserved juice over the top.