Category Archives: Asian

Peking Duck

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Peking duck is — or was — somewhat of a mystery to me.  I’ve had it a few times at restaurants that have served somewhat disappointing versions with flabby skin and so-so texture.

So, what I learned  is this:  Peking duck gets its coloring from a mixture of soy and maltose.   Much of the seasoning is simply the result of salting — essentially dry brining.  Salting — rather than brining — also ensures more crisp skin.  Finally, the duck is typically hung over wood fires.  Imagine the rendered fat drippings burning on the hot coals and mixing with the wood smoke to add even more flavor and color.  Swoon.

So, we don’t have that setup here.  A few hours of research and three ducks later, here’s a recipe that anyone can do at home.

There are two ways to cook this bird.  The first uses the same method as beer can chicken.  Situating the duck vertically with the opening facing down will help the rendered fat to release from between the meat and skin, allowing the skin to get more crisp.

The second option is to simply roast the duck horizontally — just as you  would typically roast a chicken.  Situate it breast down on the middle rack of the oven.  After 30 minutes, give the duck a 1/4 turn so that a leg is positioned at the top.  Roast for 30 minutes and turn the duck 1/2 turn so that the opposite leg is positioned at the top.  For the final 30 minutes, roast the duck breast side up.

The goals for either method is to render the fat completely and to deeply brown the skin.  Depending on your oven, this may take less than 2 hours or slightly more than two hours.  It may even require modifying the temperature a bit.

If the duck is brown, but the fat hasn’t rendered as much as you like, lower the oven temperature to 250 – 275 and cook for a bit longer.  If the fat has rendered, but the skin needs more browning, increase the oven temperature to 375-400 and, checking frequently and turning as necessary.

Tip:  If the family isn’t too fond of duck, try the recipe with a whole chicken fryer instead!

 

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Ingredients

  • 1 4- to 6-pound duck
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 empty, tall beer can
  • 1 recipe Mandarin pancakes or 1 package of small flour tortillas
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 8 scallions, sliced lengthwise (white and light green parts only)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin

Instructions

  1. Place a wire rack inside a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Dry the duck -- inside and out -- with paper towels. Place the duck on the wire rack.
  3. Insert fingers between the breast meat and the skin and gently separate the skin from the meat, working. Use this same process to separate the skin from the meat on the thighs.
  4. Combine honey, soy sauce, and rice wine in a small bowl and microwave to 15-20 seconds. Stir the mixture until the mixture is completely blended.
  5. Spoon the honey/soy mixture over the entire surface of the duck. Sprinkle salt evenly over the entire surface of the duck. Place the duck back on the wire rack, breast side up. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 36-48 hours until surface is completely dry and leathery in appearance.
  6. Adjust rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Fill beer can with water. Stand duck vertically atop beer can and place on wire rack set in lined baking sheet.
  8. Roast for 30 minutes and rotate 1/2 turn to encourage even browning. Roast for another 30 minutes.
  9. After this first hour, gauge the browning process. The duck should be a deep mahogany color. Also, the fat needs to be fully rendered. So if, after the first hour of roasting, the duck is getting too brown, reduce the oven temperature to 275 for another 45 - 60 minutes, allowing all of the fat to fully render.
  10. If the top is doing fine as-is, simply rotate the duck a third time and roast for an additional 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 for a final 30 minutes, allowing all of the fat to fully render.
  11. Carefully remove duck from beer can. Oven-proof gloves are immensely helpful at this point. I've also used dish towels to help in the process. Once, I even had to enlist the help of a second person to hold the can while I lifted the duck.
  12. Transfer the duck to a cutting board. Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.
  13. Spread pancake (or tortilla) with hoisin. Fill with cucumber and scallion. Top with a few thin slices of duck.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/02/peking-duck/

Mandarin Pancakes

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She says:  Mandarin pancakes are simple to make — only 3 ingredients!  They are used for both Peking duck and moo shu pork.  Make a double batch and freeze them for future use!

He says:  Homemade Mandarin pancakes … perfect for the moo shu that you do so well. Also known as Shanghai tortillas, Chongqing flatbread, Beijing johnnycakes, or Guangzhou flapjacks, these are the perfect wrapper for any food (read: most food) that’s too difficult to eat with chopsticks. Next time you go to an International House of Pancakes, ask if they have these little Frisbees of unleavened goodness. If they don’t, haughtily sniff “hmmph, ‘international?’ I think not” and walk out. (Sure, it sounds harsh, but how else will they learn?)

Mandarin Pancakes

Mandarin Pancakes

Tip: Toasted sesame oil gives these a great flavor and is recommended for this recipe. However, if you don't have sesame oil on hand, vegetable oil can be used as a substitute.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) boling water
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Combine flour and boiling water.
  2. Stir until a dough begins to form.
  3. Turn out onto countertop and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Divide dough into 24 balls. Cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  5. Roll a piece of dough into three-inch circle. Repeat with second ball. Brush each circle with sesame oil. Place one circle of dough on top of the other.
  6. Roll both circles together into an 8 inch round.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until hot.
  8. cook pancakes until browned in spots, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned in spots, about 30 seconds.
  9. Carefully separate the pancakes. Transfer to plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/02/mandarin-pancakes/

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

 

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I love these more than can be described in words.  Everything about them is magic:  the intoxicating scents of smoked tea and star anise that meander through the entire house, the beautiful marbling, even the shells are gorgeous.    And this is all before they’re ready to eat.  It is an almost torturous wait…

This recipe uses Lapsang Souchong tea which is smoked.  It is phenomenal.   I refer to it as the single malt scotch of teas.  If you don’t have it on hand or can’t find it, use any black tea.  The eggs will still be delicious.  Even tea bags will work — use 4.

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

Ingredients

  • 12 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups of water -- enough to cover eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Lapsang Souchong tea leaves (8 grams)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken roughly into pieces
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

  1. Using a medium saucepan, add eggs and water -- just enough water to cover the eggs. Bring to a boil. Cook for 8 minutes.Remove from heat.
  2. Remove eggs from water, leaving the cooking water in the saucepan.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the water that remains in the saucepan.
  4. Crack eggs gently with the back of a spoon or dull edge of a knife. Don't crack them so much that the shell falls off, but crack them enough to allow the liquid to seep through. It takes a little practice. If the shell does fall off in places, the marbling might be disrupted but they will still taste amazing!
  5. Place the eggs back into the pot with the now-seasoned water. Cover and simmer over low heat for one hour.
  6. Remove from heat and allow eggs to steep overnight.
  7. After their overnight soak, remove the eggs from liquid.
  8. Serve with additional soy sauce, if desired.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/02/chinese-tea-eggs-cha-ye-dan/