Peking Duck

Beijing Op

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

The Chinese Banquet Cookbook

The Chinese Banquet Cookbook

By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

Published 1985

  • About

This classic duck recipe from China’s Imperial City is as universal a part of Chinese cuisine as any food preparation can be. In Peking there are several Peking Duck restaurants that serve entire banquets composed of duck, of which Peking Duck is just a part. Elsewhere it is regarded, rightly, as a dish quite elegant and special.


  • 1 duck, 5 pounds, whole, including head, wings, and feet (freshly killed duck is preferred)
  • 4 cups boiling water or, alternately, 3 to 4 quarts boiling water to scald the duck

For the coating

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons maltose or honey

For the sauce combine and mix well in a bowl

  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
  • 5 scallions: wash, dry, save white portions only; cut into 2-inch sections, then cut edges to make fringes
  • 10 pancakes

Special tools

1 air pump

2 chopsticks or 7-inch sticks


  1. Prepare the duck: Clean, remove all membrane and fat, and rinse inside and outside with cold running water. Allow water to drain. Tie off the neck of the duck with a piece of string and insert the nozzle of the air pump into the neck opening. Inflate with the pump until the skin separates from the flesh.

    (You may alternately use your hands to separate the skin from the flesh, but a small air pump makes this step much easier. Separating the skin from the flesh is absolutely essential for Peking Duck.)

  2. Remove pump nozzle. With a cleaver remove the first 2 joints of each of the duck’s wings and feet. Insert a 7-inch stick or chopstick under the wings through the back to lift them away from the body.
  3. Scalding: Hold the duck with one hand and use the other hand to ladle the boiling water onto the skin of the duck. The entire outside must be scalded. It is advisable to hang the duck on a hook over the sink to ease preparation. The skin will darken and tighten when scalded. Allow 30 minutes for skin to dry; on humid days this may take longer.
  4. (Alternate scalding: Bring 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil. Attach a hook to the string around the duck’s neck. Holding the hook, insert the duck into the boiling water.)
  5. Coating: In a wok mix together boiling water, vinegar, and maltose and bring to a boil. Hang the duck either by the neck or under the wings. (Hanging the duck may seem to be a problem, but in fact it is very easy. Attach a string around the duck’s neck or under the wings. Hang the string on a hook over a sink, or on a window sill, or between two chairs, supporting a stick between them. Place paper under the duck to catch drippings.) Ladle the coating onto the skin of the duck, making sure skin is thoroughly coated. Allow 10 to 12 hours of drying time. (You may use an electric fan and reduce the process to 4 to 5 hours.)
  6. To roast: Preheat oven to 450°F to 475°F. for 30 minutes. Place a large roasting pan containing at least 1 inch of water on the bottom shelf of the oven, then place duck directly on an oven rack over the roasting pan.
  7. Roast duck breast side down for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 425°F. Turn the duck over and allow other side to roast for 10 minutes. If duck is burning, reduce the temperature to 400°F.
  8. Allow duck to cook evenly for another 45 minutes, turning frequently to ensure that head and tail do not burn. The duck is ready when the skin is a deep brown color, and crispy. Remove and allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. To serve: First slice the duck skin off in irregular scalloplike pieces. Then slice the meat similarly. Serve the duck wrapped in a pancake that contains 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce mixture, 1 scallion brush, 2 pieces of meat, and 2 pieces of skin.