It’s the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations tomorrow, so what better reason to have a go at making my favourite must-have dish whenever I find myself in a Chinese restaurant?
I absolutely adore Chinese crispy duck. It’s that irresistible combination of soft, succulent meat; crispy, spicy skin; crunchy vegetables (I added rocket to the usual mix of slivers of cucumber and spring onion); rich, sweet plum sauce; and the DIY joy of wrapping it all up in paper-thin pancakes. It’s why children love this dish so much too – anything they can make up themselves, putting them in control of what they put in their mouth as well as a great excuse to get all sticky and messy – it’s just such delicious fun.
I cook my duck over water first to steam the meat, before pouring away the water and roasting the duck a little longer to achieve that wonderfully crispy skin.
Crispy Chinese duck with pancakes
1 whole duck, around 1kg
1 lime, quartered
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 star anise
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
half a cucumber
6 spring onions
large handful fresh rocket (optional)
2 packets of pre-made pancakes
1 jar or hoisin or plum sauce
Preheat oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.
Pop the lime quarters inside the duck and place on a rack set in a roasting tin. Stab the skin in a few places to encourage the fat to run out while cooking. Pour the water into the tin, throw in a star anise and cover with foil.
Cook the duck for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 170°C / gas mark 3 and cook for another 40 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together the honey and soy sauce.
Remove the foil and carefully drain away the liquid. Brush the honey and soy sauce mixture all over the skin, before returning the duck to the oven for another 20 minutes back at 200°C / gas mark 6.
Meanwhile, slice the cucumber and spring onions into thin slivers and place in a dish along with the rocket (if using). Steam or microwave the pancakes according to the packet instructions.
When the duck is cooked and cooled a little, use a couple of forks to pull off and shred the meat and skin, and place on a serving dish.
To make up your pancakes, simply dollop a little plum or hoisin sauce onto your pancake, add some cucumber, spring onion and rocket, wrap it all up and scoff at once. Gong hey fat choy!