Cantonese roast duck! Who doesn’t love it?
Of course, if you make your own, you can claim the title of ‘Doctor’ (D.D – Doctorate of Duck). It’s not very hard; it’s just the stuffing and sewing of the duck’s bum than can be a little difficult. But if you take your time and follow the recipe, things will work out fine. The Research Division of the Marsupial Kitchen (that would be me) have worked this duck recipe out to the smallest detail and you may rest assured, that it works. OK?
By the by, here might be the place to deliver my rant on the Cantonese Duck/Peking Duck debate. The world, you see, is full of idiots and many of them will loudly exclaim that Cantonese roast duck and Peking duck are the same thing. (Insert Gong Show-type noise here). This is wrong.
Cantonese roast duck and Peking duck are very different. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous Chinese restaurants in Sydney will serve you Cantonese roast duck, while telling you it’s Peking duck. The quickest way to tell the difference is to look at the duck. Cantonese roast duck is deep red-brown in colour and looks varnished. (Hence the common term lacquered duck to refer to this kind of duck). Peking duck is yellow/honey coloured and looks more like an ordinary roast duck. Also, Cantonese roast duck is cooked with a filling of liquid, which is served with the duck. Peking duck is cooked dry, with some aromatics like garlic, star anise, shallot or dried tangerine peel, placed in the cavity.
So! Lets look at a recipe for …
Cantonese Roast Duck.
* No 30 duck (3kg), salt, 5 shallots, 2cm piece ginger, peanut oil, 2 tbsp caster sugar.
*3 tbsp dry sherry, 1½ tbsp bean sauce, 1½ tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tsp 5-spice powder
* 6 tbsp honey or maple syrup, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, pinch Chinese red food colouring.
Remove the neck, fat sacks and any giblets from the duck. Cut the wingtips off and thoroughly dry the cavity.
Half fill a big stewpan with water and bring it to the boil. Dip the duck into the boiling water a few times, leaving the duck in the water for about ten seconds each time you dip it in. Thoroughly dry the duck, rub the skin of the duck with salt and tie the neck closed tightly with fine string.
Trim the shallots and mince them finely. Grate the ginger and put it aside with the minced shallots.
Heat some oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the shallot and ginger mix, the caster sugar, the sherry, the bean sauce, the hoisin sauce and the five-spice powder. Bring the mixture to a boil, let it cool and liquidise the mixture with a mixing wand. Stick a funnel into the duck cavity, carefully pour the mixture into the funnel and tightly sew the cavity closed. (The duck must be watertight, so don’t skimp with the stitching). Tie a string around the duck, leaving a long loop in the string, so the duck can be hung up, head-down.
Warm a cup of cold water in a small saucepan. Dissolve the honey or syrup in the water with the vinegar and the red colouring. When the mixture is completely dissolved, brush the duck all over with the mixture, ensuring that the duck is thickly covered with the glaze. When the duck is glazed, hang the duck, head-down, in front of a fan for a few hours. If you don’t have a fan, hang the duck up in an airy place; in an open window is good. (Watch out for the neighbours’ cats).
Pre-heat the oven to 200º c (400ºf). Half fill a shallow roasting pan with water and place an oiled cake cooler in it. Cover the cake cooler with a piece of baking paper, with a bunch of holes punched in it. Place the duck, breast-side uppermost, on the paper and roast the duck for twenty-five minutes. Take the duck out of the oven and brush it with some more glaze. Reduce the heat to 170º c (340ºf), carefully turn the duck over, so the breast is underneath and roast the duck for another thirty minutes. Take the duck out of the oven, turn it over again, so that the breast-side is uppermost, brush it again and roast the duck for a final thirty minutes. Take the duck out of the oven, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for a few minutes.
Let the duck cool a little and unpick the stitching from the cavity, catching all the liquid from inside. Use scissors to cut the duck into around twenty pieces, arrange the pieces on a platter and serve the the liquid as sauce for the duck.
Serves six or so.
Remember, the duck is filled with very hot liquid; you have to be very careful when you turn it over.
Alright. So, you’ve made your delicious Cantonese roast duck, and you’ve served it to wild applause. But you made a couple of other dishes too and your guests left about half the duck on the platter. So what do you do?
Well, if you’re clever, you freeze the rest of the duck and invite some different friends over the next week, for a movie night or something like that. And you serve them some beautiful little duck tarts, which I like to call …
* ½ Cantonese roast duck, ½ cup duck cooking liquid, hoisin sauce, 4 shallots, 3cm ginger root, 4 stalks green coriander, 100g water chestnuts, salt, pepper.
* 24 wonton wrappers, cooking oil spray.
First, strip the duck meat off the bone and shred it finely. Transfer the duck meat to a mixing bowl. Add the duck liquid and a couple of teaspoons of hoisin sauce, mix it all together and put the duck aside to sit for a few minutes.
Trim the shallots and shred them finely. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Add both shallots and ginger to the duck mixture. Wash the coriander, trim off the roots and chop it finely. Add the coriander to the duck mixture. Dice the water chestnuts into tiny, two millimetre pieces. Put the chopped water chestnuts into the duck mixture and mix it together very well. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings if it’s needed.
Spray both sides of the wonton skins with oil spray and press them into two non-stick mini muffin tins. Spoon an equal amount of duck mixture into the wonton skins, until all the wonton skins are filled. Bake the lotus blossoms at 200°c (400°f) for about fifteen minutes.
Serves around ten.
These are lovely, fresh dimsum. They’re easy to make and they look very nice as well. And the name is in no way pretentious! Well … maybe just a bit. But the little tarts are shaped like water-lily flowers, so the name fits.