This classic dish is a specialty that originated in Beijing, China but is now enjoyed all over the world. The crispy skin combined with the juicy meat, wrapped in a thin flour pancake filled with cucumber and scallions makes this dish addictive and a favourite on many menus in Chinese restaurants everywhere.
The first time I tried Peking duck my parents told me it was a ‘special chicken’. I told them it tasted strange for a chicken. I think I was ten years old and it was in a fancy restaurant in Singapore. These days I eat Peking duck when there’s something to celebrate or when I really want to treat myself. And that usually happens in a restaurant.
With restaurants still closed and only available for pick up or delivery, I thought I would try making it myself. Inspired by recipes I found in my cookbooks and online recipes; I found an easy way to make Peking duck on any day of the week.
Before I go on, I want to say that I'm not ignoring more than thousand years of tradition in how to make Peking duck. Nor do I want to dismiss the hours and sometimes days of prep that goes into making Peking duck by chefs.
My approach however is about celebrating that tradition and turning a complex recipe into a simple one that anyone can make.
How to make easy everyday Peking duck?
First of all, it’s super important to buy a good quality duck filet with the skin on. I always go to Poelier Ammerlaan in The Hague for anything chicken-related. I believe that good quality and fresh produce is 80% of how good a dish will taste. The rest is technique and balancing the herbs and spices.
Before starting the preparations, turn on your oven and heat to 180 C degrees.
The next step is to marinate the duck. I like to sprinkle extra 5-spice powder on the meat side of the duck because I just love the flavours of the spices so much. Afterwards, mix Shaoxing rice wine, oyster sauce and 5-spice powder together in a bowl. Then cover the duck meat generously with the marinade mix.
Leave to rest for a few hours, but for at least one hour if you don’t have a lot of time. If you’re preparing during summertime, make sure you place the duck in the fridge.
Once the duck is marinated well, take the filet, lift it and pour a mix of Chinese black vinegar, honey and hot water over the skin.
Then, place the duck filet in the oven and monitor the duck filet until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Depending on the thickness of the filet, it should take about 30min. You can remove the fat in between (but don’t throw it away, it’s delicious to use it for fried rice! But be careful the fat will be scorching hot!
Once the skin is crispy, take out the duck from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Then take 30 seconds to do a little celebratory dance to your favourite music and then continue.
In the meantime, prepare the ingredients for the wrap. Slice a cucumber without the skin into thin long pieces and do the same with the scallions. You can add a coriander leaf if you like coriander or a few thinly sliced pieces of green or red bell pepper if you like.
Take the frozen Peking duck pancakes and follow the ingredients on the package how to heat them up. If you have a bit of time, it’s great to steam them for a few minutes, but otherwise just quickly heat them up in a regular pan – a few seconds on each side.
Go back to the duck filet and start cutting the filet into thin slices.
Lay out the pancakes, brush a thin layer of hoisin sauce over the surface, then place the ingredients in the middle on each pancake.
Fold the bottom of the pancake 1/3 up then fold the left side and right side over each other.
The Peking duck wrap is ready to eat! Enjoy!
List of ingredients
• One boneless duck breast, skin on – depending on how many people you’re entertaining, it’s approximately one duck breast per person.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to marinate the duck. For the marinade you will need:
• Shaoxing rice wine – 1 teaspoon
• Oyster sauce – 1 tablespoon
• 5-spice powder – approx. 1 teaspoon
You can add a splash of light soy sauce if you want the marinade to be a bit more salty, but I left it out for my recipe because the oyster sauce already contains quite a bit of salt.
For the skin of the duck filet you’ll need:
• Chinese black vinegar – 1 teaspoon
• Hot water – 1 tablespoon
• Honey – 1 teaspoon
For the Peking duck wrap
• Chinese pancakes – you can buy these frozen at the Asian supermarket
• Cucumber – sliced
• Scallions – thinly sliced
• Hoisin sauce
You should be able to get all the ingredients in your local Asian supermarket.