For a duck to be served right out of the oven at a Chinese-style banquet, start roasting 30 minutes before guests come -- or even later, depending upon at which point the bird will be welcome.
Carving the finished duck requires a very sharp knife and patience, and perhaps a flair for the dramatic. A thoroughly trimmed carcass can be used to make a flavorful soup.
Serve with hoisin sauce and steamed, crepe-style Asian pancakes (figure about 2 per person), the kind used for wrapping, in addition to the scallions and cucumber. The sauce is available at Asian markets and on the international aisle of some larger grocery stores; the pancakes are available in the freezer section of Asian markets.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 1 1/2-inch piece ginger root, cut into 6 slices (peeled or unpeeled), then cut 4 of the slices into julienne (very thin strips)
- 1 5-pound whole (pekin) duck, preferably fresh (may use defrosted duck); 1/2 inch of the wing tips discarded
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 scallions, white and light-green parts, coarsely chopped, plus 2 bunches scallions for serving
- 1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
- Seedless cucumbers (optional), peeled and cut into julienne
- Store-bought hoisin sauce, for serving
- Store-bought Peking duck wrappers (pancakes), for serving, such as Wei-Chan brand
Fill a tall stockpot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 slices of the ginger. Carefully lower the duck into the water and parboil for a few minutes, making sure that it stays submerged. Remove and transfer to a colander to drain and cool while you make the marinade.
Mince the remaining julienne ginger slices and place in a medium bowl, along with the honey, chopped scallions and sherry or wine, stirring to form a marinade. Rub the mixture into the skin of duck, making sure to coat it completely on all sides.
Hang the duck by its legs over a pan to catch the drippings, for at least 6 to 8 hours and up to 12 hours (overnight; do not refrigerate).
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Cut the remaining scallions into 2-inch lengths, discarding the dark-green parts. Trim the root ends, then make crosswise cuts at the end of the white part and place in the water to soak. The ends should open slightly like a flower, to from scallion "brushes." (These will be used to brush the hoison sauce on the pancakes and then wrapped and eaten with the duck. An alternative is to serve the scallions shredded.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; place the coated duck breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour water in the bottom of the pan (enough to cover the bottom but not enough to come close to the bottom of the duck).
Place the duck in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for about 1 hour, until browned and the meat is no longer pink and any juices run clear.
Carve the duck before serving; you'll need a big platter and a very sharp knife. Carefully cut away the crisp skin in 2- by 1-inch pieces, avoiding any of the meat or remaining fat. Line the edges of the platter with the pieces.
Cut the legs and wings; set aside.
Cut the duck breast in slices that are about the same size as the pieces of crisp skin; place in the center of the platter. Arrange the legs and wings at opposite ends of the breast meat to regain a semblance of the original shape of the duck. Trim any remaining fat from the duck and then carve thin slices of meat, laying them on the platter insider the circle of skin.
Place the platter on the table, along with dishes containing the scallions, hoisin sauce and the pancakes. To assemble a wrap: Place a dollop of hoisin sauce at the center of a steamed pancake, add a piece of crisp skin and a piece of the duck meat. Top with a scallion brush and some cucumber. Roll up like a cone or stuffed crepe, with one end (on the bottom) tucked in. Serve warm.
Adapted from a recipe by Chinese cooking teacher Joan Shih in Silver Spring.
Tested by Judy Sarasohn.
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