The ultimate crispy duck! It takes time, but boy is it worth it. Marinated for tenderness and flavour, steamed to keep it succulent and then deep fried to ensure you get plenty of crispy bits.
For the duck
- 1 whole duck, spatchcocked or cut down the spine into two halves
- vegetable or sunflower oil, for deep frying
- 1 pack Chinese pancakes (approximately 10–12 pancakes)
- hoisin sauce, to serve
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced, to serve
- ½ cucumber, cut into matchsticks, to serve
- 2–3 spring onions, cut into matchsticks, to serve
For the salt seasoning
To make the duck, place the duck in a large saucepan filled with boiling water and blanch for 3–5 minutes to remove any excess fatty impurities.
To make the seasoning, place the cinnamon sticks, star anise, mandarin peel, ginger and spring onions in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Dry fry until you start to smell the sweet aroma of the spices.
Once blanched, cool the duck down by running under cold water, pat dry and place the duck halves skin-side down in a large bowl or roasting tin. Mix the dry toasted spices, rock salt and Shaoxing rice wine in a small bowl. Rub well all over the duck and fill the cavities of the duck with the peel and whole spices. Leave to cool completely, cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
Set up a steamer with a good amount of water in the base pan. If cooking both pieces at the same time, you may need to use two layers to fit both duck halves (depending on the size of your steamer baskets). Place the duck on a heatproof plate or bowl that fits in the steamer basket. Pour any salt seasoning that has run off the meat over the duck again to retain as much flavour as possible when steaming. Steam for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. Top up the water in the base pan with boiling water as and when needed.
Place the duck in cold water for 15–20 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Once cool, either chill the duck in the fridge for a further hour, without covering, or freeze, ready to deep fry another time.
Set up a deep-fat fryer or half-fill a wok with the oil and heat to 180C. Alternatively, use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test the oil by placing the tip of the wood in the oil – if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is at roughly 180C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Deep fry the duck for 8–12 minutes until crispy (if you are using two duck halves deep fry them separately). Transfer to kitchen paper to drain and cool slightly.
Steam the pancakes in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes (or heat very briefly in the microwave). Once the duck is cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Serve the shredded duck and pancakes with the hoisin sauce, carrot, cucumber and spring onion on the side.
To make this in advance, follow the recipe up to step 5, then either freeze the duck if preparing a long way in advance or keep it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Thaw in the fridge if freezing and deep fry from chilled.