Five-spiced duck pancakes

Five-spiced duck pancakes

Have You Eaten
Billy Law

I order duck pancakes every time I go to a Chinese restaurant. Cooking the crispy Peking duck is a tedious science project that involves drying the duck with a fan, then glistening it was maltose before showering it with ladlefuls of hot oil. This all seems too difficult to attempt at home. Hence, I offer this quick and simple alternative of baking the duck in the oven with a god rub of five-spice for flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
1.8kg duck
2 teaspoons each sichuan and black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 long strip mandarin or orange peel
2 cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 star anise
olive oil
250ml hoisin sauce
pinch white sesame seeds, toasted
1 green cucumber, seeded and cut into 5 cm lengths
3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal


Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour
pinch salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
250ml boiling water
sesame oil, to brush


  1. To prepare the duck, first remove the neck, then clean the duck inside and out. Pat dry with paper towel. Separate the skin from the breast by running the index and middle fingers underneath the skin without tearing it. Use a chopstick for the hard-to-reach areas when necessary. Place the duck on a tray and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry the skin.
  2. To make the spice mix, use a mortar and pestle to grind the Sichuan and black peppercorns, white pepper, five-spice and salt to a powder.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C­. Rub 1 tablespoon of spice mix inside the duck cavity, then stuff it with mandarin peel, ginger, garlic and star anise. Bring the skin together to seal the cavity, then secure it with a bamboo skewer. Rub the remaining spice mix all over the duck skin, put the duck on a wire rack in a roasting tin, breast side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Place the duck in the oven and roast for 1½ hours, turning the tin around halfway through cooking time, for an even roasting on the skin. Keep the rendered duck fat in the roasting tin for another use (try the duck fat roast potatoes).
  4. Meanwhile, to make the pancakes, combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the boiling water. Using a fork, draw in the flour until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a log about 2.5 cm thick. Cut the log into 20 even pieces, then roll each portion into a ball. Flatten each ball in the palm of your hand to a 6 cm round disc. Brush the top of one piece of flattened dough with sesame oil, place another piece on top and press lightly to join them together. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 15 cm pancake, about 2 mm thick. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Stack the pancakes between sheets of baking paper.
  6. To cook the pancakes, heat a large frying pan over low–medium heat (do not add any oil to the pan). Cook each pancake gently for 30 seconds on each side until it is puffed up slightly and starting to colour on a few spots. It should be cooked but still soft and malleable. Remove from the pan and, using your fingers (take care as the pancakes are hot), peel to separate the pancakes. Place the cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm and prevent them from drying out. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.
  7. Remove the skewer from the duck, then strain the liquid from the cavity through a fine sieve into a bowl. Discard the solids. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the strained liquid with the hoisin sauce to make a dipping sauce. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.
  8. Slice the skin off the duck into thin strips, then shred the duck meat into bite-sized pieces. Place the skin and meat on a platter with the cucumber strips and spring onions. To serve, smear a spoonful of hoisin sauce mixture on a pancake, top with duck meat and skin, garnish with cucumber strips and spring onions, then wrap it up like a crêpe.
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