14 Jan2014

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Almost any well executed “Peking-Style duck” from a reputable Chinese restaurant would trump a home-made version by a mile… Blowing air between skin and meat, “frying” the skin, and all kinds of processes to achieve that perfect balance of crisp skin and juicy tasty meat is the stuff of legends… But this super-easy home version of roast duck with pancakes wasn’t bad at all, and it will probably cost you a fourth of the price of sitting down to dinner in a fancy restaurant. After the recent holidays, we still had a whole duck in the freezer, just waiting to be cooked. So I decided to prepare it “Chinese-style” based on one of the simplest recipes of Nigella Lawson, here. I made a few changes and incorporated other suggestions to the recipe as described below. I kid you not, this was REALLY EASY and it was a real crowd pleaser.

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First take a nice fat duck, defrost it if frozen (I did this in the fridge over two days), and rinse and dry it with paper towels inside and out. Remove the neck, gizzards, etc. from the cavity of the duck. I seasoned the duck inside with salt, freshly cracked black pepper and about 1.5 teaspoons of fresh five spice powder. You might also rub some grated ginger inside the cavity of the duck if you like I took an extra step of placing the seasoned duck near an electric fan for nearly an hour presumably to help dry out the skin’s surface (not even sure if that technically works) and for the spices to sink into the meat.

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Next, place the duck on a rack in a pan, season with salt on the outside of the duck, and place into a 320F oven for 4 hours or so. Yup, you read that right, 4 hours… Ms. Lawson suggests either cranking up the heat to 450F for 15-20 minutes to brown the skin, or leave it at the lower temperature for up to 1-1.5 hours more. I did the first option. A LOT of duck fat will render out of the bird. Honestly, I actually thought TOO MUCH duck fat rendered out, and the meat a bit on the dryish side, and recommend cutting the cooking time at 320F to say 3 hours the next time, plus the final blast of heat to brown the skin. Then again, the thermostat on our oven might be running high, so just pay attention to the temperature of your oven and keep it relatively low.

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Honestly, that’s it. The duck roasts on low heat for hours. The fat renders out, your home or apartment smells heavenly, and you turn the heat up at the end to crisp the skin a bit more and achieve a nice color. Take the duck out and let it rest for a few minutes before taking it to the table with the pancakes, hoisin sauce, shredded cucumber and scallions or green onions.

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The skin was nice and crisp, and meat shredded effortlessly. Just use two forks to shred all the duck meat, making the assembly of the pancakes a breeze.

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Because we had guests, I gussied up a nice big wooden chopping board (meant to serve lechon or roasts) with the duck at one end, a bowl of hoisin sauce, a bowl of pomegranate arils, some finely ribboned cucumbers and some thinly sliced young leeks or scallions. To get the scallions to curl, just slice thinly, soak in ice water (with ice cubes in it) and drain well before using. For the cucumber, I shredded them on a benriner (a Japanese mandoline) and placed them in paper towels and stored that in the fridge until ready to use.

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To assemble a pancake, shmear some hoisin on a pancake, add some duck skin and meat (some folks like to do the first one all skin, then subsequent ones with meat) some shredded cucumber and scallions, roll this up and enjoy! The pomegranates looked like a good idea, and we had one remnant pomegranate in the fridge, but I wouldn’t do that again… they distracted from the classic ingredients and pure pleasure of biting into a pancake filled with duck, veggies and hoisin or plum sauce.

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This was pretty darned good. If I had access to good pre-made pancakes, this would have gone from say a 7.5 to say an 8.50, not bad for so little effort at home. I made these on a lark, and had no idea where to buy the chinese style pancakes, so of course I thought I would try and make them ourselves…

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Using a recipe also on Nigella Lawson’s site, but not posted by her or her staff, I made a simple dough, rolled that into logs…

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…cut them into fairly uniform sized pieces, rolled them in my palms, and tried to roll them out to the suggested 6 inch diameter circles. First of all, it wasn’t so easy to roll them into the desired shape, but I figured even rustic looking pancakes would do fine.

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Add sesame oil to one side of a pancake, lay another one on top of it, and cook in a medium hot non-stick pan, turning once when there are little patches of golden brown on the pancakes.

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Once they are done, and as soon as you can handle them (they can be quite hot), you need to separate the two sides and lay them out on a plate or serving platter. It was more cumbersome to make the pancakes than it was to cook the duck! So if anyone knows where I can buy these ready made in Manila, please leave me a message below… :)

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Ginger, our brown labrador, waited under the dinner table for any scraps to fall her way. Even just a teeny tiny bit of pancake please, thank you. Overall, this dinner was kind of special but was relatively easy to put together. The taste and visual aesthetics of serving the duck were impressive yet do-it-yourself at the same time. I need to tweak this a bit the next time we make it, but we are definitely doing this again soon.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. natie says:

    GINGER!! The Dog!! Love to see him again!!!

    Will try this with chicken maybe or turkey, since that’s what i have in the freezer..cut the cooking time or will eye-ball it. Thanks, thanks thanks,MM!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 5:40 am

     
  2. pixienixie says:

    Hi Ginger! Cute!
    This seems easy to do indeed! I now have a new dish to try for my birthday this Monday. :) Thank you for the timely post MM!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 6:58 am

     
  3. Monty says:

    Great job on the duck. I think it was Ming Tsai who suggested that Hoisin Sauce be cooked to soften it’s flavors. I would actually put it in some medium hot oil and add some Calamansi juice and stir constantly for a couple of minutes. Does anyone have any idea where to buy Chinese pancakes?

    Jan 14, 2014 | 7:49 am

     
  4. marilen says:

    WOW!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 7:53 am

     
  5. Marketman says:

    Monty, if inclined, you can also make a nice fresh plum sauce instead of the hoisin. We don’t get plums in Manila that often, and they are pricey, but I suspect if I heated up some of Sister’s damson plum jam with a bit of soy sauce it would work nicely as well…

    Jan 14, 2014 | 8:27 am

     
  6. betty q. says:

    An excellent sub for the Mandarin pancakes are green onion pancakes rolled thinly and filled with thinly sliced braised boneless shank with Chinese spices.

    Last November, my nephew in Toronto took me to this Chinese resto near their place known for Peking Duck. I was expecting those mandarin pancakes but instead spring roll wrappers were used cut into circles and placed in bamboo steamer. I must say that it made also a good alternative or sub for the pancakes.

    Jan 14, 2014 | 9:29 am

     
  7. betty q. says:

    MM, if you still have the carcass, make it into Chinese duck stock with smashed ginger, onions, star anise,black cardamom a stick of cinnamon, toasted fennel seeds, seasoning like making pho. Then prepare your toppings, sautéed oyster mushrooms, napa cabbage, any leftover meat from duck, carrots, bean sprouts, tokwa, etc. plus rice noodles and you have a nice bowl of duck pho perfect on this cold night!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 9:38 am

     
  8. Khew says:

    Consider using warmed up pita as an alternative to the pancakes. ;) Warm them up, cut in half and smear some sesame oil (diluted with the duck fat) within.

    Jan 14, 2014 | 10:50 am

     
  9. millet says:

    want to do this right now! wondering if this would work with the skinnier local ducks. and waht did you do with the bones, MM? duck mami, or pho, i hope?

    Jan 14, 2014 | 11:46 am

     
  10. millet says:

    oh, exactly what bettyq said!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 11:47 am

     
  11. Marketman says:

    millet and bettyq, Mrs. MM had about half the duck and bones made into a thai style red-duck curry, a favorite of ours. I was out of town, so she had it all to herself. :)

    Jan 14, 2014 | 1:12 pm

     
  12. Marie says:

    Hi, MM. I saw some ready-made ones at Eng Bee Tin (in Binondo) last time I was there. I normally go to Peking Garden or El Presidente and but them to sell me a pack. But, if you’re into authenticity, perhaps I can be of service and get you some as I currently work in SH.

    Anyway, just email me where you want me to post the pancakes and will have someone do so when they go back home to the Philippines.

    Lovely duck, by the way! Drool-worthy and made me super hungry! (And I have the stomach bug) so, that’s a VERY high praise! :P

    Jan 14, 2014 | 1:33 pm

     
  13. millet says:

    good for Mrs. MM!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 2:37 pm

     
  14. Chinky says:

    Where do you buy the duck? Are those the ones wrapped in white plastic packaging found in the freezers of S& R?

    Drooling over the duck….want to try and make this!

    Jan 14, 2014 | 8:25 pm

     
  15. Marketman says:

    Chinky, I bought this one at Cash & Carry, but yes, they are the ones you describe, I think there is only one importer that supplies all the big grocery chains. I think they are U.S. raised, but Pekin stock…

    Jan 14, 2014 | 8:33 pm

     
  16. Hershey says:

    Duck looks great! Your duck doesn’t look that dry and it does look like an 8.5! If am not mistaken, what most restaurants do is that they finish the duck by laddling it with some hot oil until it crisps the skin.

    Jan 15, 2014 | 11:18 am

     
  17. Monty says:

    Most of the ducks sold in the groceries are from the US. It’s illegal to import ducks from China because of the bird flu, and unfortunately the Chinese variety was the best for Peking duck.

    Jan 15, 2014 | 12:28 pm

     
  18. Marketman says:

    Monty, that’s a bummer, I wish we could bring in duck, goose, etc. from good suppliers in China and say Vietnam… Hershey, you are right, they ladle hot, hot oil on the skin to crisp it up and give it that sheen when it arrives at the table.

    Jan 15, 2014 | 7:59 pm

     
  19. LesterG says:

    About the cooking temp and time: 3:20 F is perfect, and make it also 3m20s…did it in a professional kitchen. Then also, the chinese usually make a crisper-glaze using maltose syrup+lemon. Try putting up the insides of the duck with this: Fragrant Salt, Onion, Ginger, Hoisin Sauce. This suggestions would make you peking duck more chinese…

    Jan 15, 2014 | 8:53 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    LesterG, thank you so much for those comments, will have to do this again. And yay, I have maltose in our pantry from several months ago and experiments with char siu style pork. Do you put the glaze just 20 or 30 minutes before the end of cooking so it doesn’t burn? I just spent an hour in Chinatown/Binondo this morning trying to find those duck pancakes with no luck, so I guess I am going to have to learn how to make them better.

    Marie, no ready made pancakes at Eng Bee Tin. Some other grocers have lumpia wrappers, but not the pancakes. But thanks for the suggestion. And the offer to send some from Shanghai? — that’s way too kind. I appreciate the offer but wouldn’t want to inconvenience you. Salamat.

    Jan 15, 2014 | 10:34 pm

     
  21. Monty says:

    MM, maybe a tortilla press might make the pancakes easier to make.

    Jan 15, 2014 | 11:34 pm

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Monty, good idea, need to find me a tortilla press… thanks.

    Jan 16, 2014 | 9:02 am

     
  23. LesterG says:

    1. Put the maltose-lemon juice glaze before air drying. And the drying is made after glazing and stuffing the seasoning, and usually we dry it 5pm till 5pm the next day. The glaze i’m using is made by my fellow chef, so you have to do it by intuition. Ration is like 2:3 meaning more liquidy glaze. And as for the pancakes; it’s not easy to find one. Only chinese restos have access to chinese food purveyors only. It’s better if you make one from scratch.

    Here’s a nice recipe: http://www.priscillaliang.com/2010/10/peking-duck-wrappers-mandarin-pancakes-%E5%8C%97%E4%BA%AC%E5%A1%AB%E9%B4%A8%E9%BA%B5%E7%B2%89%E7%9A%AE%E5%81%9A%E6%B3%95. Try to add minced onion chives for taste, aroma and color. Don’t use other flour wrappers…..

    Jan 16, 2014 | 9:51 am

     
  24. Hershey says:

    Forgot to suggest also, they sometimes add mei kuai lou wine, its chinese rose wine, inside the duck to give better fragrance.

    Jan 16, 2014 | 11:09 am

     
  25. Rob says:

    Please, no hoisin sauce. This should be served with Tiánmiànjiàng sauce.

    Jan 16, 2014 | 12:04 pm

     
  26. Marketman says:

    Rob, Hershey and LesterG, thanks for all of those tips!

    Jan 16, 2014 | 2:25 pm

     
  27. manny says:

    Could it be that nigella’s duck was much larger than yours thus the need to cook it for 4hrs.?

    Anyway will try this.

    Jan 16, 2014 | 3:14 pm

     
  28. Marie says:

    MM–If you’re not in a rush to have them, I’m planning on going home in July. I normally order them in bulk at Quan Ju De (A Peking Duck place that’s famous for inventing THE duck and serving it to the emperors. For the record, I’ve been there, had them, can’t really tell much of a difference from tortillas, apart from a hint of 5 spice and some secret herbs)

    Anyway, I’ll bring a pack home and get your idea on them. (I’ve received heaps of praise from MM recipes in the past and it’s my honor to be part of this blog, no matter how small my contribution is. :) )

    Jan 16, 2014 | 6:45 pm

     
  29. Mimi says:

    Made this with chicken today. Reduced baking to 2 hours at 150 C and final blasting at 200C for more than 15 minutes. Pancakes were a bit chewy? Rolled between silpat. Ball of dough, divided in 2, balled again, flattened with my palm, drops of sesame oil, sandwich together oil between, roll between silpat, then carefully removed and pan fried in lightly greased pan. Not perfectly round, but roundish. The pancakes I’ve eaten here have some egg as they were yellowish and easier to bite.

    Jan 16, 2014 | 9:14 pm

     
  30. betty q. says:

    MM…after cutting them to pieces, shape them into small balls by tucking the edges in the centre till you get a nice ball if you are not yet adept at doing the one hand shaping by cupping them in your palm and counter clockwise motion. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for awhile to RELAX THE GLUTEN and then it will be far easier to roll. Roll into a 4 inch circle, lightly brush with sesame oil and top with another rolled 4 inch circle. let it RELAX again and continue doing the rest of these pancakes this way. by the time you get to the last one, the first set will be ready to roll into a 6 inch paper thin circle if I you wish…NO SWEAT AT ALL!
    I FIND that the best tool to use for rolling it is a small size rolling pin with a diameter if less than 2 inches…go to Home Depot mga Mrs. And look on the bin where have cut dowels. Sometimes you can get lucky and get the rolling pin you are looking for for next to nothing, You can roll the pancake with one hand rolling it in all directions starting from centre and out…

    Hope this helps for perfectly round pancakes.

    I was taught eons ago by a Chinese restaurant chef up north how to make Peking duck using a barbecue. Pumped air in between the skin and the meat….air dried and then placed the duck on one side of the grill with no heat and pan underneath to catch the drippings. it took at least 2 hours but it is by far the best my family has ever eaten. it had a smoky undertone not found anywhere. thank you for the post and I will make it again. WEather is cooperating now!

    Jan 16, 2014 | 10:43 pm

     
  31. betty q. says:

    …or maybe you can roast 2 ducks at a time done the way you roasted your porchetta?!? …Lechon na Pato!

    Jan 16, 2014 | 10:57 pm

     
  32. Marketman says:

    Marie, that’s very kind of you, so I guess if you are ordering anyway, I can make sabay nalang… Thank you very much! bettyq, thanks, will have to try this over coals someday soon… low heat, low heat…

    Jan 17, 2014 | 5:34 pm

     
  33. David says:

    A couple of questions:

    Where to buy fresh duck?

    Where to buy a tortilla press?

    Since moving to Manila 5 years ago, I have been very frustrated In finding good, fresh ingredients for cooking. Some friends back in Chicago who are professional chefs stress that Fresh makes the difference.

    MarkeyManila has helped tremendously, but its still catch as catch can finding what you need.Thanks, and my wife thanks you, as I am teaching her to cook foods other than Filipino, and she and her Mom teach me Filipino cooking.

    Feb 2, 2014 | 11:06 am

     
  34. Marketman says:

    David, for meats such as steaks, ducks, etc., mostly you will get pre-frozen meats, and frankly, I think that might be a better alternative than dubiously processed and handled meats by local butchers. If you haven’t been to Cash & Carry in Makati, or say Metro Grocery in the Fort, you may want to pay them a visit. They stock U.S. sourced ducks, turkeys, etc. For meats, try S&L Fine Foods for lamb, veal, beef, etc. Santis delicatessen also stocks some good meats. So does Bacchus Epicerie. There are very few LOCALLY grown sources of beef, lamb and duck but they do exist. Down2Earth has organically raised beef and pork and they sell it at the Salcedo and Legaspi weekend markets. Another vendor at Salcedo sells pretty nice locally raised wagyu beef. Markets in Chinatown will yield pigeon, quail, duck, etc. So it’s just a matter of finding the sources, though I will agree with you they are not so easy to find and keep going back to.

    As for vegetables, the selection in Manila is MUCH MUCH better than say 10 years ago. Weekend markets at Centris (QC), Salcedo, FTI, etc. have a wonderful selection of local and traditionally foreign ingredients. On occasion I find fennel, beets, etc. And local farmers do supply restaurants and specialty stores with other stuff as well. I realize it can get frustrating at times, but if this blog is any gauge, the stuff is out there. Just leave me a comment any time you want to know where I bought something I featured on the blog.

    For kitchen equipment, you might try Cook’s Exchange shops in major malls, or Gourdo’s in several locations, or other specialty stores I have featured on the blog before. If large chain stores are more to your liking, I hear a Crate & Barrel and possibly even a Williams Sonoma are about to open within a few months in several locations in Manila. :)

    Feb 2, 2014 | 11:32 am

     

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