The Chinese culture is known for its festive banquets, particularly for weddings and Chinese New Year's celebrations, and crispy Peking duck. January 23, 2012 marks the new year so out with the "year of the rabbit" and in with the firey dragon. The dragon is a symbol of power and wealth. What could be better than a meal fit for an emperor -- Peking Duck? Cooking Peking duck at home is fun but also quite time consuming. I find this recipe to be relatively easy to follow and strongly suggest it's worth the try.
The key to good Peking duck is the many-stage and all-day process of drying the skin, removing excess fat and glazing the bird with aromatic ingredients so that the roasted bird is crispy on the outside, lean, not greasy, and very moist on the inside.
Choose fresh -- never frozen -- Long Island duckling, whenever possible. And start cooking the night before or early in the morning to allow the skin to dry out before cooking.
Drying the skin is step one. Hang it using a kitchen twine wrapped under its wings and over a kitchen cabinet knob. A household fan speeds up the process.
While the duck is drying (which will take several hours), you can go shopping for the fresh vegetables and other ingredients for your Chinese New Year's banquet. I like to serve a complimentary Asian side dish such as bok choy.
A 5-minute bath in a honey glaze is step two. When you lower the duck into the wok be careful not splash the hot liquid.
Step three is repeating the drying process for the freshly glazed skin. The Time-Life recipe that I used to guide me the first time I made Peking Duck calls for one hour in front of a fan during the second drying; however, I followed several other recipes that call for longer drying times (the drier the skin the crispier the duck). Three hours is good if you have time or overnight in the refrigerator (you'll have to create a makeshift device to hang the duck in your fridge).
Leave plenty of time to make the pancakes. My favorite part is to peel the pancakes apart.
When I have it, I use beach plum jam to make a homemade sauce instead of bottled hoisin sauce although store-bought hoisin works quite well.
About 2-1/2 hours before you plan to serve dinner, and when the skin is dry like “parchment paper”, roast the duck.
As detailed in the recipe and shown in the phote, the duck is plated on a serving dish with the various parts of the duck separated and and served on different plates (crispy skin, legs, breast meat).
To eat, diners take a pancake, brush on hoisin or beach plum jam sauce using a scallion that's been cut to make a "paint brush", put duck meat and skin on top of the pancake, and roll it up with all the ingredients inside. Then, take a heavenly bite.
For step-by-step photos please visit: Lighthearted Locavore's "How to Make Peking Duck for Chinese New Year's"
Wash duck. Wipe dry and tie string under wings. Hang in a cool place in front of an osillating fan for 2 hours. Fill a large wok with bath ingredients. Stir and boil. Lower duck into the boiling liquid and ladle liquid over duck to moisten all sides (continue for 5 minutes). Hang duck again and fan for 3-6 more hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place duck breast side up on rack in a roasting pan filled with 1 inch of water. Roast for one hour. Lower to 300 degrees (F), turn duck breast side down and roast 30 minutes. Turn breast side up again, roast 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. Let sit on top of the stove for 15 minutes before carving. Using a sharp knife cut off crispy skin, carve legs and wings from the bird and slice the meat. Cut the skin into neat bite size pieces and the meat. Serve skin, legs and wings, and duck meat on separate serving platters.
Brush sauce onto pancake using scallion brush, add duck, some crispy skin, and scallion garnish. Roll pancake like a taco and eat. Serves 4.
Heat until bubbling and let cool.
For a video and tasty recipe, check out Videojug’s How to Make Chinese Pancakes (see Videojug's step by step directions below).
You’ll need flour, water, sesame oil, sugar and a few special tools, including a rolling pin, cookie cutter and stop watch. Pancakes can be made ahead and steamed right before serving.
ABOUT THE LOCAL FOODS
Crescent Farms: Of literally hundreds of Long Island duck farms from the 1930’s and 1940’s on Long Island, only two remain.
Sang Lee Farm: largest grower of Asian vegetables for Community Supported Agriculture and Farmers Market customers
Paumanok Preserves and a few other local jam and jelly entrepreneurs make jam with local beach plums. Beach plums are native to Long Island and Cape Cod.
Honey by Don Sausser Apiaries of Southampton
Step 1: You’ll need flour, water, sesame oil, sugar and a few special tools, including a rolling pin, cookie cutter, stop watch and steamer. Pancakes can be made ahead and steamed right before serving.
Step 2: Begin the dough
Put the flour and the sugar into a bowl. Combine them together with your wooden spoon then add the boiling water. Mix together, until it forms a sticky dough. Next, generously sprinkle the dough with some flour. Then dust the work surface and spoon the dough into the flour. Begin to gently fold the dough. Then knead it for a few minutes. Don't be afraid to add more flour to the dough, if necessary, as it might still be too sticky. Continue to knead until the dough takes on a smooth, non sticky, elastic consistency. Finally, cover it with a clean tea towel and set it aside for 30 minutes, to rest.
Step 3: Roll the dough
Uncover the dough and cut it in half. Rub the rolling pin with flour and roll one half into a thin sheet of about 1/2 cm in thickness. Repeat exactly the same process with the other piece.
Step 4: Cut the pancakes
Take one sheet and cut it into circles using the biscuit cutter. Take off the excess pastry but do not discard. You can roll it again later. Now brush each circle with a little bit of oil. Place one disk on top of the other, with their oiled sides together, to create a pair and repeat exactly the same process with the other half of the dough. Cover with a towel to retain the moisture.
Step 5: Roll the pancakes
Re- flour the working surface. Take each pair and using your rolling pin, roll them out to make them paper thin. Repeat until all of the pairs are rolled flat. Then cover again to retain the moisture.
Step 6: Fry the pancakes
Place the frying pan onto a medium-high heat and allow it to get very hot. Do not add any oil. When the pan is hot enough, add a pancake. Let it cook for about 1.5 minutes, until it begins to look char-grilled and slightly inflated. Then turn it over and cook other side. Remove it from the pan and separate it into two pancakes. This way of cooking, gives one slightly charred side, and a moist side. It also gives the pancakes more flavour and the dough is more elastic. Repeat with the rest of the pancakes. Once removed, keep them covered with a tea towel so they do not dry out.
Step 7: Serve or store
Your authentic Chinese pancakes are now ready. They can be eaten immediately with dishes like Crispy Aromatic Peking Duck, which can be found on our website, or they can be frozen. To reheat them, just steam them a bit!
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