Beijing roast duck needs no introduction, whether you’re from the north or the south. A trip to Beijing isn’t complete without savoring this iconic dish. Making your own crispy Beijing duck at home doesn’t require advanced culinary skills or precise temperature control. This recipe is approachable for everyone, promising a delightful taste reminiscent of the authentic Beijing roast duck. Here’s a simple guide in three parts:
Part 1: Preparing the Duck
- Clean the duck and consider removing the wings (though optional).
- Hang or prop up the duck, then pour boiling water slowly over it until the skin contracts and pores appear. This prevents excess oil when drying.
- Mix soy sauce, cooking wine, and salt, then evenly spread it over the duck. Allow it to marinate for about an hour.
- Dilute honey with water to a slightly thin consistency and evenly coat the duck’s skin. Repeat this step after about half an hour.
- Place the duck in a cool, dry place (e.g., refrigerator) to air-dry overnight (approximately 5-6 hours). You can also use a fan or hairdryer to speed up drying, ensuring that the skin is entirely dry.
- Once the duck’s skin is thoroughly dried, it’s ready to roast. The drier the skin, the crispier it will be. I often use a hairdryer to ensure any remaining moisture is eliminated.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue roasting for around 40 minutes or until the duck’s color turns golden brown and glossy. Lowering the temperature helps to ensure that the inside cooks while the skin doesn’t burn.
- Once both sides of the duck look good, remove it from the oven and start slicing the meat. Be cautious not to cut your hand while doing so.
Part 2: Lotus Pancakes
- Mix salt into the flour and scald it with hot water until it forms a dough. Allow it to cool, then knead it into a smooth dough.
- Let the dough rest for an hour, then divide it into thumb-sized pieces (dough balls). Roll them out into thin pancakes.
- Place a piece of gauze or aluminum foil in a steamer, stack the pancakes, and steam them for 3-4 minutes.
- Remember to prepare some sliced green onions, cucumber strips, and sweet bean sauce. To eat, roll the meat slices and these ingredients inside the pancakes.
a. Properly air-drying the duck is crucial for achieving crispy skin. If you’re short on time, a hairdryer can be used. Ensure all areas are thoroughly dried.
b. Avoid placing the duck directly on a baking pan, as it may make the lower part soggy. Instead, use a wire rack. No need to flip the duck during roasting. Do not line the rack with aluminum foil, as it may hinder browning.
c. Roasting at 390°F (200°C) for the first 30 minutes is essential, then adjust the temperature as needed. Look for a golden-brown and shiny skin as an indicator of doneness. Timing may vary, so watch for the desired appearance.
d. For the lotus pancakes, some suggest sandwiching two dough balls with a bit of oil before rolling them out. This allows the pancakes to separate into two layers. Experiment with this method for a unique result.
e. Don’t waste the remaining duck parts. Tear the remaining meat from the bones to use in stir-fries or congee. The bones can be used to make a flavorful soup or fried for a crispy treat with spices like cumin and chili.