( MAKES 18 )
Photo by Tam West
Peking duck has wow-factor. When you go to restaurants in China, they will carve the duck in front of you to serve with different condiments - normally spring onion, cucumber, sauce - and pancakes. Traditionally it takes two days to make (the duck needs to hang to dry) but as much as I love tradition, sometimes I prefer simplicity. I have used duck breast rather than whole duck and you can get your guests to assemble their own little packages of deliciousness. Alternatively you can buy a cooked roast duck from an Asian store.
|440 g||Duck breasts|
|1 Tbsp||Molasses, or honey|
|¼ tsp||Chinese five spice, see below|
Sauce (makes 100ml)
- In a pot bring about 1 litre of water to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add molasses and stir to dissolve. Poach the duck breast in the water for 20 seconds and remove from the water. Pat dry with kitchen paper.
- Score the skin of the duck breast with knife (be careful not to cut the flesh underneath the skin). Flip over and season the flesh side with five-spice and salt.
- Place the duck in a cold frying pan, skin side down (you don’t need any oil here) and heat the pan to medium-high. Cook the duck for 5-6 minutes or until the skin becomes crispy and golden. Drain the fat from the pan and flip the duck to cook the other side for 2 minutes. Place the frying pan into the oven (if your frying pan is not suitable for the oven, then place the duck on an oven tray) and cook for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 8-10 minutes.
- To make the sauce, put the tamarind and water in to a small pot and bring to boil — use a wooden spoon to break the tamarind block into small pieces. Once it’s boiling, keep stirring, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 1½ minutes. Remove from heat, add the rest of ingredients to the pot and stir to dissolve sugar. Use a sieve to remove tamarind pulp. Set aside.
- Lay baking paper at the bottom of the bamboo basket and add the pancakes. Cover with the lid and steam over a pot of boiling water for couple of minutes.
- Julienne the bottom 5cm of spring onion, cut the cucumber into sticks and finely slice the duck. Serve in individual bowls with sauce and pancakes for people to assemble their own little pancake.
Five-spice mix: Mix together 1 Tbsp ground star anise, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp ground fennel, 2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper and 1 tsp ground cloves
Tamarind provides a special sweet and sour flavour to dishes. It is readily available at Asian grocers and some supermarkets. I prefer to use it in block form rather than using tamarind puree as I find the puree very sour and not as sweet.
Peking duck pancakes are made from wheat flour, water, oil and salt and are easy to make at home, but are readily available at Asian grocers, so why not use them! Look for them in the freezer section.