Covered with a lid, the wok becomes an effective casserole for slow cooking. This braised duck, with its tender yet firm-textured meat, is evocative of roast duck.
1 oven-ready duck, about 4½pounds
thick soy sauce
3tablespoonsShaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
3tablespoonsthick soy sauce
2whole star anise or 16 segments
2inchescinnamon stick, broken up
Pour a kettle of boiling water all over the duck to scald the skin, which will shrink instantly and become glossy. This helps to keep the shape of the duck. Wipe off excess water. While the skin is still warm, brush all over with thick soy sauce to color it.
Heat a wok over high heat until smoke rises. Add the oil and swirl it around. Lower the duck into the oil to brown, breast side down first, then turn over and sideways. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until the skin takes on color. Remove the duck.
Add the whole onions to the oil and fry over a high heat for 1-2 minutes. Lift to a plate with a perforated spoon. Remove most of the oil (which can be saved to cook vegetables like cabbage or cauliflower).
Return the duck to the wok. Add the wine or sherry, salt, sugar, chicken stock, 3tablespoons thick soy sauce, star anise, and cinnamon. Add also about 1cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with the wok lid, and simmer for about 1½ hours. Add the onions around the duck, replenish with alittle more water or stock, and continue to simmer, covered, for another hour.
Remove the onions and keep warm nearby. Turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, spooning it over the duck repeatedly until the sauce becomes thicker and glazed. Alternatively thicken the sauce with cornstarch (about 4teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2tablespoons water for every 1cup sauce).
Remove the duck to a serving platter and arrange the onions around it. Carve it your usual way or break it up into chunks with chopsticks.