Monday, November 26, 2012

Crispy Duck

I went to the U.K. with a friend in 2012, and months before we made our journey across the pond, she had ordered "Peking Duck" a few times at Chinese restaurants here in the U.S.  The ducks, although ordered with great enthusiasm, were not what she considered to be true "Crispy Duck," and she was ultimately disappointed with each.  When we flew to Liverpool, we ate "Crispy Duck" twice during our 10-days together, and it was delicious and somewhat different than what we had had in the U.S. (the meat is a little drier and crispier than Peking Duck).  I was determined, when I returned home to Texas, to make a "Crispy Duck" for her!  With a little research and planning, I figured it out!  Here is the recipe/technique using my Turkey Fryer to fry a whole duck (being a naturalized Texan, y'all know I had to find a way to use my Turkey Fryer for this recipe - and because it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, it was a great way to find "another use" for the expensive peanut oil that was still good and in the fryer a few days after we fried our Thanksgiving turkey in it).

Serves 4-6


1   4-5 pound fresh (or frozen and thawed) duck (the Peking variety is best, as it is less fatty)
     Chinese Five Spice Powder (approximately 2 TBS)
     Peanut Oil (enough for deep frying according to your Turkey Fryer manufacturer's instructions)
     Corn Starch (enough to lightly dust the outside the duck - approximately 2/3 cup)

3   small bunches scallions or green onions, white and light green parts only, medium matchstick cut
3   medium cucumbers, peeled and large matchstick cut
25 mini chinese steamed buns / baozi (I buy these frozen at H-Mart)
     Hoisin Sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand), diluted with a little water and sesame oil
     Plum Sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand)
     Chiu Chow Chili Oil (Lee Kum Kee brand)

Fit an 11" stainless steel steamer basket into the bottom of a large pot, and add about an inch or so of water (just so it is just below the bottom of the basket).  Rinse the duck, add it to the pot breast side down.  Sprinkle the back with salt, pepper, and Chinese Five Spice Powder (rub in if needed), then flip breast side up and sprinkle with the same (salt, pepper, and Chinese Five Spice Powder).  Bring water to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover the pot with a lid, and steam the duck for two hours over simmering water.  During this time, keep an eye on the liquid and add more water if necessary to the pot (do not let the water evaporate).

I generally prepare all the accompaniments except the steamed buns toward the end of the steaming time; holding the scallions and cucumbers in separate ice water baths until just before serving (where I drain them and quickly serve them still crisp and cool).

Remove the duck from the pot and let cool on a tray or platter for about 20 minutes.  Reserve the duck fat that has accumulated in the pot of water for another use, like duck fried french fries!  I use a fat separator for this.  During this time, turn on your turkey fryer and bring the temperature to 325 degrees.

Once the duck has cooled enough to handle (it will still be very warm), tear open a large paper bag, and place the duck in the middle breast side down.  Sprinkle the back generously with cornstarch, then flip, and sprinkle the breast.  Rub gently with your hands if needed to evenly coat the bird.

Fry the duck for 15 minutes at 325 degrees (according to the turkey fryer manufacturer's instructions).  Remove carefully and place somewhere to drain (I have an option on my fryer to hang the frying basket on the side of the frying pot, above the oil).  Make sure you turn off the turkey fryer!

Let the duck rest for about 20 minutes, then carve, removing the whole breast and leg (including the thigh) off the bird.  Debone the leg and thigh.  Finally, slice all pieces into thin strips.  Place on warmed platter and tent loosely with foil until served.

At the last minute, I prepare the steamed buns by placing a piece of parchment paper on a large plate, arranging about 12-14 mini buns on the plate, sprinkling them lightly with water, wrapping the plate with saran wrap (make sure the plastic is sealed underneath to hold in the steam) and microwaving the buns until hot - about 2-3 minutes.  Leave the plastic wrap on the plate and open it when everyone is at the table and ready to eat!

To eat, slice open a steamed bun and spread a generous amount of prepared Hoisin or Plum sauce on the top and bottom of the bun.  Add a slice or two of duck meat and then top with a few matchsticks of cucumber and scallions.  If you prefer a little heat, drizzle some spicy Chiu Chow Chili Oil inside too.  Press the top and bottom of the bun together and consume like you would a slider.

This recipe is great served with Janice Cole's Gingered Carrot Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms (recipe also on the blog).  I also like to serve it with steamed baby bok choy, which I typically wash, put wet into a non-stick skillet, steam (lid on) over medium heat for a few minutes, and then continue cooking (lid off) until liquid in the bottom of the pan has evaporated.  Just before serving, I dress it with a dash of sesame oil and sriracha sauce.

The plate of crispy duck, festive rice, and bok choy with a few extra cucumbers are pictured to the right.

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