I had a craving for duck today – the really crispy kind with dark five spice skin. I got one of those crispy pancake ready meals from the supermarket and stuck it in the oven. It wasn’t long before my kitchen was filled with Chinatown-y smells – essence of Gerrard Street.
I have fond childhood memories of eating Peking duck round a lazy susan at the local Chinese restaurant with my family. Everything was fascinating back then: those impossibly thin pancakes, the waiters’ frantic double-fork duck-shredding action, that succulent meat, the amazing skin, the addictive sauce. Was I supposed to spread or drizzle? Wrap or roll? My wife spreads the hoisin lightly before making a dainty little duck roll. My brother would roll and tuck to create a neat little parcel, whereas Dad used to drizzle the hoisin by the greedy gallon on mountains of filling so the delicate pancake strained to meet itself.
My duck salad is in no way a match for this great occasion dish, but it’s straightforward and it sits on one plate.
So in addition to chopped cucumber and spring onion, I prepared orange segments and watercress.
To make the dressing I mixed hoisin with the juice from the leftover orange.
My duck had been out of the oven and was now cool enough to pull apart.
After tossing everything together I garnished with extra crunch: duck toasts – bit like mini-prawn toasts masquerading as croutons. I mixed some of the finely shredded leg meat with duck liver pate and a drop of rice wine vinegar, before spreading on little triangles of bread and sprinkling with sesame seeds. These were fried off in oil and the fat given off by the duck.
I was going to add a final scattering of pummeled honey roasted peanuts, but I forgot to buy them.
Still the end result was rich, salty, sweet, sharp and crunchy. And just like all those years ago the skin was still the best bit.
ready meal crispy duck, cucumber, spring onion, watercress, orange, honey roasted peanuts, hoisin sauce, duck liver pate, bread, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, oil for frying