As this dish is often served with pancakes, spring onions, cucumber and duck sauce (a sweet bean paste), many people mistake it for Peking Duck. This recipe, however, uses a different cooking method. The result is just as crispy but the delightful aroma makes this dish particulary distinctive. Plum sauce may be substituted for the duck sauce.
1 oven-ready duckling, about 2.25 kg (5 - 5 1/4 lb)
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
5-6 whole star anise
15 ml (1 tbsp) Szechuan peppercorns
5 ml (1 tsp) cloves
2 - 3 cinnamon sticks
3 - 4 spring onions
3 - 4 slices fresh root ginger, unpeeled
75 - 90 ml (5 - 6 tbsp) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
lettuce leaves, to garnish
spring onions, shredded
1. Remove the wings from the duck and split the body in half down the backbone.
2. Rub salt all over the two duck halves, taking care to work it all in thoroughly.
3. Marinate the duck in a dish with the spices, spring onions, fresh ginger and wine or sherry for at least 4—6 hours.
4. Vigorously steam the duck with the marinade for 3 - 4 hours (or for longer if possible). Carefully remove the steamed duck from the cooking liquid and leave to cool for at least 5 - 6 hours. The duck must be cold and dry or the skin will not be crisp.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until it is just smoking, then place the duck pieces in the oil, skin-side down. Deep fry the duck for about 5-6 minutes, or until it becomes crisp and brown. Turn the duck just once at the very last moment.
6. Remove the fried duck, drain it well and place it on a bed of lettuce leaves.
7. To serve, scrape the meat off the bone and wrap a portion in each pancake with a little duck sauce, shredded spring onions and cucumber. Eat with your fingers.
Small pancakes suitable for this dish can be found in most Chinese supermarkets. They can be frozen and will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
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