This is a Chinese recipe, adapted from Yan-Kit So’s ‘Smoked Duck, Sichuan Style’ in her Classic Chinese Cookbook. She cooks the whole duck, but here I use only the duck breast fillets, which are easier to handle and which are conveniently packaged and sold in pairs in most supermarkets. It is still a dish that needs a little advance planning, but the taste and texture of the smoked duck more than repay the little extra trouble.
You can use a smoke box, or a large thick-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, or a wok with a domed lid. Keep the kitchen well ventilated, as some smoke will inevitably escape. The advantage of a smoke box with spirit burners is of course that you can do the whole job out of doors.
You can make the Fried Rice while the duck is steaming; the recipe. To go with it, any stir-fried vegetable is good.
Rub the duck breast portions with the salt and keep them in the fridge overnight. Next day, rinse well and dry each fillet with kitchen paper. The duck is now ready for smoking. Whatever vessel you use, line the bottom part of it with a double layer of aluminium foil. On this, spread the tea leaves, flour and brown sugar. Put a wire rack over these and lay the duck pieces side by side on the rack.
Cover the vessel tightly and put it on a medium heat for 10 minutes; then open the pan, turn the pieces over, and continue smoking for another 10 minutes.
Transfer the duck pieces to a heatproof dish that will fit inside your steamer. Alternatively, you can steam them in a wok – see illustration. Mix the ginger, spring onion, star anise, Sichuan pepper, wine or sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl, then pour this mixture over the duck, turning the pieces so that all sides are well coated with it. Then steam the duck pieces for 1 hour.
Remove the duck pieces from their cooking juices and dry them with kitchen paper, then leave them to get cold. (The juice, which is mostly fat, should be discarded.) Up to this point, everything can be pre-pared well in advance, though it is better to fry the rice shortly before it is to be served.
When the fried rice is ready and you are ready to serve the meal, deep-fry the duck breast portions in oil for 6-8 minutes or until the skins are quite crisp. Don’t let the meat become too dry, however, as this will make it stringy and chewy. Serve immediately.
© 1994 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.