Cantonese Roast Duck

There are times when I have an idea that gains momentum as rapidly as a growing snowball does when rolling down a snow covered mountainside in a cartoon. This particular duck dish was definitely one of those. A few months ago, (I have been THAT busy), my birthday came and went and what I really wanted was a dish of roast duck and rice. Now it’s not impossible to get a Chinese Roast Duck in Perth, that is unless you’re after one cooked in a very particular way.

The Chinese Roast Duck that can be bought from restaurants around Perth is Peking Roast Duck and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s a firm favourite of mine and I can wax lyrical on what a perfect Peking roast duck ought to be. What I was after was a Cantonese roast duck. It’s similar but there is a key difference and it lies with the marinating of the duck. The Cantonese roast duck is roasted with a liquid marinade inside it in addition to the skin being marinaded. The roasted meat has a higher moisture content and the skin while tasty isn’t as crispy as the Peking roast duck.

The most difficult part of this recipe was getting hold of a fresh duck outside of the Christmas period and Chinese New Year. There was much driving and old fashioned ring around on a Saturday morning to find one. We managed to find one from The Boatshed Market in Cottesloe. In retrospect there wouldn’t be any harm in defrosting a frozen duck to prepare for this dish. What is important though is that at the very least the neck of the duck should still be attached so the liquid marinade is better sealed within the body cavity during preparation and cooking. Traditional recipes call for the head to also be attached but it’s not required. These days you have to make a request to the butcher for the head to remain on a duck carcass.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh duck with the neck attached
  • Dental floss
  • 1 sewing needle

Dry Marinade

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns

Liquid Marinade

  • 1 tbsp unflavoured vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 spring onions cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 1 star anise broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp golden sugar

Blanching Liquid

  • 5L of water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Baste (for Smoker option)

  • 2 tbsp unflavoured vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 star anise broken into pieces
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method

Dry Marinade

  1. Combine dry marinade ingredients in a small bowl and rub on outside of duck. Place duck in a pan. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
    20170401_175144

Liquid Marinade

  1. Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic, ginger, and spring onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5-10 seconds. Add remaining marinade ingredients. The idea is to infuse the flavours into the oil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  2. While the liquid marinade is cooling it’s time to get a length of dental floss and get sewing if your duck doesn’t have a neck or head attached. Surgical precision isn’t needed. All that’s needed is to overlap the neck skin and sew tightly.
  3. Once the marinade is cooled, pour it into cavity of duck.
  4. Get another length of dental floss and this time sew the belly opening shut.
  5. I then move the carcass around ensuring that the liquid marinade covers the interior of the duck. Leave to one side.

Blanching Liquid

    1. Combine blanching liquid ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
    2. Call upon your inner boy scout or girl guide to make a sling from several lengths of string tied together. They need to be long enough to go around the duck under the wings and then be able to lower and pull out the duck of the pot of boiling blanching liquid. We found cooking twine to be perfect for this.
    3. Holding the duck by the sling made of string, lower it into the blanching liquid and blanch duck for 2 minutes. Lift out, drain, and pat completely dry.
    4. Place the duck on a roast rack in a baking dish in the fridge for at least four hours, (overnight is best), to allow the skin to dry out further and become taut.
      20170401_182539_001

This is where things become a Choose Your Own Adventure approach depending on the method of cooking you want to try.

Oven

  1. Preheat a fan forced oven to 200°C.
  2. Place duck breast side up on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn duck over while carefully avoiding piercing the skin. Baste with drippings. Roast for a further 20 minutes.
  4. Turn duck breast side up again and roast for a final 10 minutes or until the skin is brown and crispy. Baste with drippings.
  5. Remove duck from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Place duck in a clean baking dish. Cut string and dental floss to juices and the liquid marinade from the cavity drain into the baking dish. Keep this liquid.
  7. Once the duck has been drained, cut into serving-size pieces.
  8. Skim the layer of fat and oil from the liquid drained from the duck cavity and discard.
  9. Reheat the remaining liquid in small pot and pour over duck just prior to serving or serve on the side in a little bowl.
    20170402_191110.jpg

Smoker

  1. Combine the baste ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 15 seconds to infuse the flavours into the oil. Mix well.
  2. We used apple and hickory to smoke our duck at 90-95°C for four hours basting every 30 minutes.
  3. After smoking, the duck was transferred to a 180°C fan forced oven for 15 minutes to crisp the skin.
    20170402_183811
  4. Remove duck from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Place duck in a clean baking dish. Cut string and dental floss to juices and the liquid marinade from the cavity drain into the baking dish. Keep this liquid.
  6. Once the duck has been drained, cut into serving-size pieces.
  7. Skim the layer of fat and oil from the liquid drained from the duck cavity and discard.
  8. Reheat the remaining liquid in small pot and pour over duck just prior to serving or serve on the side in a little bowl.

When it comes to eating duck I like to keep things simple. I like my duck cut to bite size pieces served with rice and blanched Chinese greens like choy sum or baby bok choy.

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