Roast Duck

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    16

    as an Entrée

Appears in

Mr Hong

By Dan Hong

Published 2014

  • About

Ingredients

Day 1 Brine

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) salt
  • 150 g ( oz. 2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) kombu extract
  • 10 quills of cassia bark
  • 20 star anise
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10 cm (4 inch) piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 bunch spring onions (scallions), green part only
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) Chinese rose wine
  • 2 × 1.8 kg (4 lb) whole fresh ducks
  • 900 ml (31 fl oz) maltose liquor (recipe)

Method

Day 1 Brine

For the brine, fill a large stockpot with 8 litres (280 fl oz/32 cups) water, then add all the brining ingredients and whisk to combine. Keep on whisking until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.

Trim the wing tips off the ducks and discard. Put the ducks in the brine and cover with a weighted plate to make sure they remain fully submerged for 24 hours.

Days 2–3

Fill a large wok or saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Attach a butcher’s hook underneath each of the duck’s wings, where they meet the body. Using the hooks to hold onto the duck, dip one into the boiling water to blanch it. Then, holding the duck over the water, use a large ladle to scoop boiling water all over the skin. Do this a few times – you will notice that the skin will start to tighten. (Tightening the skin allows it to dry out properly, which will give you a super-crisp texture at the end.) Repeat with the second duck.

As soon as you’re done blanching the ducks, dip them in the maltose liquor, using the same process as blanching (ladling over the maltose liquor to cover all areas of the skin). Now hang the ducks in a warm dry place (off a cupboard over a sink works well) and leave for about 5 hours to make sure the skin dries out. Transfer the ducks to a tray and leave in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours.

Remove the ducks from the fridge a few hours before you want to roast them. Having them at room temperature makes the ducks easiers to cook and ensures the skin is dry and will crisp up.

Before you turn the oven on, reconfigure it so the ducks can hang vertically. You might want to put a tray with water in it on the bottom so the fat can drip down without messing up your oven. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8).

Hang the ducks in the oven over the tray and roast for 50–60 minutes. Halfway through cooking, check how they’re going and rotate the ducks as they will brown unevenly if you don’t turn them around.

Take the ducks from the oven as soon as they are ready and carve them. The longer you leave them, the less crisp the skin becomes.

In most Chinese restaurants roast duck is served in one of two ways. Firstly, the skin and a little bit of meat might be served Peking-style on pancakes (which you can buy ready-made at most Asian grocery stores), along with a baton each of spring onion and cucumber, and a little bit of hoisin sauce. The rest of the meat is then removed from the bone, shredded and tossed with noodles or fried rice. Alternatively, the duck is carved as you would with any roast bird. I like to keep the juices from carving, mix them with a little bit of white soy dressing and pour it back over the carved pieces. It’s also delicious served with plum sauce.