Friday, July 23, 2010

Crispy Fragrant Duck

My mom makes a crispy skinned duck that I have never seen served at any restaurant in town.  When we have a festive family meal, I often ask her to make it because really, you can't get it anywhere else.  I decided it was time to try a version of it.  After all, it is Friday night, my favorite night of the week.


Start a day ahead by marinating the duck in the following:
6 Scallions, smashed then sliced into 1" pieces
1" Piece of ginger, thickly sliced, smashed, and then roughly julienned
3 tbsp cooking wine
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 star anise, smashed
Combine the marinade and rub all over inside and outside of duck.  You can put the duck into a dish, cover and refrigerate overnight, or seal it in a large zip lock bag, like I did.


The next day (today), I took the duck out, and steamed it for 1 1/2 hours.  I used a wok, and a cake stand actually.  Fill the wok with some water, set cake stand inside and duck on top.  Check water periodically to make sure it does not all boil away.  Add more as needed.  Do this earlier in the day as you will need to let the duck rest before proceeding.  After steaming, discard any liquids/marinade and let the duck cool.  Brush the duck with light soy sauce and then dredge with cornstarch, pressing it in so it will stick to the skin.  Place the duck back into the fridge for several hours until it is very dry.  The duck is white when first covered with the cornstarch, but then the soy sauce and the liquids from the duck will wet the cornstarch into a dry paste, but not powdery any more.  



Fill a wok with 2 inches of oil.  Heat the oil to 375f and carefully place the duck into the oil.  If you have dried the duck well, you should not get a lot of oil splatter / popping.  Ladle the hot oil over the duck and fry until golden and crispy.  Drain the duck on paper towels and let rest for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.  Chop into small pieces and serve.  You will need a good heavy cleaver for this.  My mom is a surgeon when it comes to cutting up bone in duck.  It is truly amazing.  I have not fine tuned that talent yet.  The steaming allows the marinade to penetrate the duck.  The frying gives you the crispiness.  

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