Saturday, 8 October 2011

Crispy Chinese Duck, Plum Sauce & Pancakes


I salivate just thinking about this weekend treat! It is so much nicer than the takeaway version, if only because the sauce and pancakes are that much tastier, but also because you avoid the gamble of receiving burned, dry duck meat and ensure that your duck has been farmed responsibly and ethically.

Here is a good idea for using up the leftover bones and meat the following day: Thai Duck & Noodle Soup. I also use the little pancakes to go with other rich meats, such as this Spicy Beef with Wasabi Mayo dish.

It's best of all if you can marinate the duck for 24 hours before cooking, but if you don't have time (as I didn't) then it'll be fine just applied on the night. I got the ingredients for this marinade from a recipe in Ching He Huang's "Chinese Food Made Easy" but have changed the ratios.

For the marinade, mix together 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons shiao xing rice wine (or sherry), 4 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon of hot chilli sauce, a teaspoon of ground allspice, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of salt and a crushed large clove of garlic. Stir to mix really well.

If you have time to marinade, pop him in a large (waterproof!) plastic bag with the marinade and leave in the fridge for 24 hours. Otherwise brush the marinade over the duck, really work it in, and pour the rest into the cavity and over the top.

Position the duck in a large baking tray upside down on a trivet and put in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. Turn the duck over every half an hour, ensuring that the last half hour is with the breast side up.

Plum Sauce
I got the basics of this recipe from Jamie Oliver's "Cook with Jamie". De-stone and chop up 5 or 6 purple plums. In a saucepan, assemble a star anise, 80g caster sugar, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a sprinkle of hot chilli powder, a squeeze of lemon juice and lots of black pepper.

Add a small amount of water gently dissolve the sugar over the heat. When you have a liquid bring it up to the boil and simmer until it starts bubbling.
Add the plum peices and give it a good stir. Simmer for a further 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then pour into a serving dish and leave to one side to cool down.

Chinese Pancakes
The original recipe for these came from BBC Good Food, but I adapted it and make it my way these days. This makes enough for two hungry people.

Fill a teacup with mostly plain flour, topped up with wholemeal flour. Mix this in a bowl with a teaspoon of caster sugar and 100ml of boiling water. Knead this briefly until it comes together as a dough and then leave, covered, to rest.

When you're almost ready to eat (usually while the duck is resting out of the oven), break the dough up into eight small balls. Flour the worksurface and splat the first ball with the palm of your hand, then a second one. Coat the upper surface of the first splat with sesame oil then put the second splat on top. Use a rolling pin to flatten both of them and lay over the edge of a bowl while you repeat the process with the other balls.

Heat up a dry frying pan until it's really hot and lay the first pancake in. Be really careful not to overcook these, you want them to be soft and flexible not hard and crispy. Flip the pancake as soon as it has mostly puffed up and only cook the other side for 20 or 30 seconds. Take it out and on a clean plate find the seam where the two peices were rolled together and unpick them - be careful of the steam inside - to make two pancakes. Keep under a moistened teatowel until ready to serve.

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