Peking duck could be the ultimate dining-out meal. Achieving shatteringly crisp skin and tender meat is a difficult feat at home and often involves large purpose-built ovens which the ducks can hang in while baking.
Peking is the Romanised word for Beijing, China’s capital, which the dish is named after. It’s been made for centuries, and similar styles of roast duck date back to 1330 where it was recorded in a manual by an Imperial Kitchen inspector. The Peking duck that evolved to what it is today was later developed in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and was a staple on the Imperial Court menus.
It’s not uncommon to have Peking duck served in courses, with each part of the bird made into a different dish, but for aficionados, it’s likely the best part will be the first dish with crispy slices of skin, spring onion, sweet bean sauce and soft, thin pancakes.
Making the pancakes at home involves a fair bit of work, but this shortcut version really takes the edge off and with an order of roast duck from your local Chinese restaurant or sliced pan-fried duck breast it really hits the spot.
Shortcut Peking pancakes
Take 1 packet (30 pcs) of white, round store-bought dumpling wrappers and brush one side of each wrapper with a little vegetable oil before stacking into a pile.
Gently roll the stack out to your desired size – about 15 cm is ideal. Don’t use too much oil between the layers or the stack will slip.
Place the stack on a plate and into a steamer basket. Steam for 20 minutes. While still warm, peel the layers apart and either re-stack or fold into quarters. Serve immediately.
The top layer may become a bit sticky from the steam so keep that one as the chef’s snack.
Serve with your fillings of choice, whether it’s roast duck, hoisin, cucumber and spring onion or seasoned tofu and julienned veg.
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One of the oldest and most famous recipes to come out of the north of China and Beijing is Peking duck. It is prized for its thin, crispy skin.