Crispy Duck

This is one of my favorite ways to cook duck.  I can't help it, I love the crispy skin.  It is marinated, then steamed, allowed to cool, coated with corn starch, and then fried.  I did fail to plan properly and so did not get this marinating a day ahead.  No worries, as is my nature to experiment with food, I figured it was an opportunity to see if this process would work just as well.  I would normally keep the duck whole and marinate it overnight.  But about noon today, I cut the duck into 4 pieces and marinated it the following:

5 Scallions sliced into 1" pieces
1" Piece of ginger, thickly sliced, smashed, and then roughly julienned
3 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 star anise, smashed

Place the duck onto a rimmed pan, skin side down, and salt the flesh side of the duck.  Then sprinkle with half of the scallions, ginger, peppercorns, and star anise.  Turn the duck over and repeat.  Then drizzle with the rice wine.  Carefully pick up the pieces of duck, trying to keep the spices on them, and place into a zip lock bag, along with anything that came off the duck and was left in the pan.  I'm hoping the zip lock bag will help the duck absorb the marinade faster.

Several hours later, about 3:30 in the afternoon, I steamed the duck for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  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.  Let the duck sit and dry on the counter until you are ready to fry it.  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 pieces into the oil.  If the duck is dry, you should not get much oil splatter.  Turn the duck pieces over as needed to fry evenly until it is golden brown in color.  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 am still honing that skill.

The duck was really good, but I have to say, not as flavorful as when it's been marinated overnight.  Nonetheless, we devoured it happily.


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