Super-crispy roast duck

Super-crispy roast duck

Best Kitchen Basics
Petrina Tinslay

I once went to Beijing to cook and, not being particularly sharp and the recipient of a simple country education, it took me a while to remember that the city was formerly named Peking. A little while later the penny dropped and I thought this was probably the home of Peking duck and that was why it was served with wheat pancakes, as it is in the North. The only version I had eaten was in Cantonese restaurants – definitely rice territory. All of this took some time. One of the finest was had at Da Dong. Chef Dong Zhenxiang roasts his in brick ovens fuelled by fruit wood, including persimmon.

The duck is properly served with a sweet tian mian jiang dipping sauce, made from fermented soybeans – not hoisin plum, which is a corruption.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.8kg free-range duck
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
20g sea salt flakes
2 mandarins
125g fine salt
100ml sherry vinegar


  1. Rinse the duck under cold running water and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Grind the spices with the sea salt flakes using a mortar and pestle.
  3. Blend the whole mandarins in a food processor and add the spices.
  4. Spread the spiced mandarin paste evenly into the cavity of the duck. Seal the cavity with a stainless steel skewer.
  5. Bring 3 litres water and the fine salt to the boil and add the vinegar. Roll the duck in the water to tighten and set the skin, then place the duck on a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate for 2 days, uncovered, to dry the skin.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  7. Place the duck on a wire rack in a deep roasting tin. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for a further 45 minutes. Remove the duck from the oven and rest it for 15 minutes before serving. Remove the skewer and drain the juices and fat from the cavity. Discard. The fat from the cooking tray can be retained.
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