Peking Duck, or Peking Roast Duck, is regarded as one of China’s national foods. Having been prepared since the imperial era, the dish is prized for its thin, crispy skin sliced in front of the diners by the cook.
Raising the duck
The ducks used to prepare Peking Duck originated in Nanjing. Nowadays, Peking Duck is prepared from the Peking Duck. “Newborn ducks are raised in a free range environment for the first 45 days of their lives, and force fed 4 times a day for the next 15–20 days, resulting in ducks that weigh 5–7 kg.”
The roasting art
The art of roasting ducks evolved from techniques used to prepare suckling pigs. For more than a century, specialized chefs have developed the idea that the skin of the duck should be so soft and crisp that it melts in the mouth.
Only the wood of fruit trees such as date, peach and pear are used in the roasting process to give the meat its unique aroma.
The two famous Beijing condiment shops, Liubiju and Tianyuan, supply the dark tangy bean sauce spread on the pancakes. The fragrant sesame oil and refined sugar are also specially selected.
The slicing of the meat from the carcass of the duck is an art in itself. A skilled chef is able to cut between 100 and 120 slices in four or five minutes, each slice with an equal portion of both skin and meat.
How to eat
Pick up a pancake in one hand and, using a piece of raw scallion as a brush, paint a few splashes of bean sauce on the pancake. Next, place the scallion at the center of the pancake, and use your chopsticks to add a few pieces of duck, finally rolling it up like a burrito.
Editor: Wen Yi Source:chinaculture.org