Tried and Tasted: Fancy a Peking duck cooked to perfection? Here’s where to go in Delhi
Peking – or Beijing – duck is a dish that requires considerable skill. The meat has to be moist and the skin has to be crispy.tried and tasted Updated: Apr 08, 2018 09:03 IST
Hoisin sauce, it must be said, grows on you. I remember my first encounter with the rather pungent sauce much used in Oriental dishes. It was so strong that I almost reeled and asked the chef some discreet questions about what it was. The chef misunderstood me, and beamed happily at what he thought was a hoisin sauce lover. He even packed some for me, which I kept in the refrigerator at home, leading to a situation when folks refused to open the fridge door.
But that was long, long years ago. Since then, I have become quite a fan of hoisin sauce, prepared with, among other ingredients, soya beans, fennel seeds, vinegar and red chillies. And I think it goes particularly well with Peking duck, a dish that I love – and dug into recently once again at Shang Palace, the Chinese restaurant at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel.
Peking – or Beijing – duck was apparently a much loved part of Imperial menus in China, though the records date back merely to the 14th century. It is a dish that requires considerable skill. The meat has to be moist and the skin has to be crispy.
Chefs used to earlier complain that Indian ducks were not fatty enough for a good Peking duck. But there are duck farms now, and it is not difficult to get fatty and heavier ducks.
This is not a dish that you should consider cooking at home if you are short of time, for it is marinated, dried and cooked over several hours.
Some chefs first treat it with hot water, honey and vinegar to clean the duck and give it a colour.
The talented Neeraj Taygi, EAM, Food and Beverages, at the hotel, tells me that the duck has to be washed, and then air-blown so that the skin loosens up. It is then marinated in brine water, vinegar, sugar, green onions, garlic and some other ingredients and kept aside for four hours. The duck is kept hanging to dry for 12 hours or so. It is then brushed with maltose, which gives it its brown colour, crispness and sweet flavour.
The tough part is the roast. The temperature in the oven has to be right, and you have to take it out just when it is done. The duck is then sliced, and served with pancakes, cucumber juliennes and of course hoisin sauce (though plum sauce is another option). The crispy skin is kept on the side and is eaten with powdered sugar.
It’s a dish that can be described in just one word – Divine!
Recipe: Crispy duck
Ingredients: 1 medium-sized duck, 20g ground black pepper, 20g cumin seeds, 60g Szechuan pepper, 20g five-spice powder, sea salt, pancakes, cucumber, spring onion, 40ml hoisin sauce, 20g sweet chilli sauce
Method: Wash a duck. Roast and grind the black pepper, cumin seed and Szechuan pepper. Mix with the sea salt. Apply this to the duck, and keep aside for 12 hours. Steam the duck for about 110 minutes. Debone once done, and then fry the meat till it is crisp. Cut into thick pieces and server on pancakes – with cucumber juliennes, spring onion strips and hoisin and chilli sauce.
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