The Peking Duck
Who doesn't like a Chinese takeaway or heading to Chinatown for an 'authentic' meal? Well I am going to tell you now that Chinese food in China is pretty different than the dishes one gets served up in the rest of the world. Don't get me wrong, of course Dim Sum, Fried Rice, and Kung Pao Chicken are Chinese staples but truly, many of the dishes I came across in China I had never even heard of before. Different animals and their varying body parts are on offer and some dishes are even too weird for my adventurous palate. What's the best thing I ate? Scratch that, what's the best of the best- Peking Duck!
Also referred to as Beijing Duck, it is served throughout China, variations of the dish date back to the Imperial Era folks, that's a long time ago. Basically it is duck (often just the skin layer) served with hoisin sauce and delicately sliced cucumber and spring onions (scallions for the Americans) all wrapped up in thin pancakes, mouth-watering yumminess. This is a delicacy and the process for cooking this dish is certainly a labour of love. Once the especially bred duck has been killed and cleaned, air is pumped up under the skin to separate the fat, then it is soaked in boiling water, rubbed, glazed, and hung up to dry for 24 hours before being roasted, so just a short process! Can't get to China to try this dish? No worries, there are plenty of variations that you can try at home if having ducks hanging about the kitchen is not your thing! As someone who has got the memory of this however, well worth it for a very special occasion, here's looking at my 14th birthday, thanks dad!
So what do to?
Well I am not going to lie, although I love cooking I do not have my own recipe for this dish but I have done some research and found a few different ones for you to have a little look at!
My favorite tv chef, Mr Oliver:
He always makes things seem so effortless and easy, and encourages people to try at home, inspiring stuff really! This is a much simpler method, rubbing the duck with spices to get flavors into it, and chucking it into the oven, spooning over the fat to help the skin crisp periodically.
Food Network's Peking Duck:
This consists of air drying for two hours and a few other steps to prefect the crispiness, so a bit more prep and perhaps a little nearer to authenticating the dish.
The Whole Shebang:
Serious Eats makes the original dish at home with all it's steps, hard core, enough said.
So there you go, varying forms of Peking Duck. If you see this on a menu anywhere, I would employ you to try it, a wonderfully unique dish. Although the original process is long and technical, it is actually incredibly light and delicate to taste. One bite of the fresh, crisp veg, thin warm pancake, sweet and tangy hoisin sauce, and crispy duck will be heaven in your mouth, I promise. I mean it has been passed down for hundreds and hundreds of years, that has to mean something right?
Tayah's Take: Heard of Crispy Aromatic Duck?
Now Cripsy Duck is an incredibly popular dish in Chinese restaurants throughout the United Kingdom (I wish it was found more easily in the USA). This is a 20th century western version of Peking Duck, difference being that the duck is actually deep fried so that the whole thing becomes crispy. The bird is then brought to the table where the skin and meat is chopped and pulled in its entirety together. Crispy Duck is then served with the same ingredients as Peking Duck. If you are in Europe, than you mostly likely have this as one of your go to Chinese staples. In America and near a Chinatown? You might have to do some research, but you most likely can find one joint serving up this dish or even a real Peking Duck!
So go on, have a PEEK at this Chinese classic!