Peking Duck is a classic of Chinese cooking. Crispy-cooked duck breast, delightfully sweet hoisin sauce and crunchy cucumber and green onion, all wrapped inside soft, rice-based, Chinese Pancakes.
Indeed, many people, myself included, consider Peking Duck the most important dish in Chinese cuisine. It is a simple combination of ingredients but when tasted together it is sublime.
And it is an easy dish to put together and will leave your fellow diners thinking you are a cordon-bleu chef! But trust me, our recipe is not that hard.
Worried you can’t source the ingredients? Don’t be. We give you all the clues to easily source hoisin sauce, Chinese pancakes and the barbecued duck itself if you are so inclined. You can also make your own duck and/or pancakes if you wish.
We also take some time out to talk about the importance of the ubiquitous barbecued duck in Chinese Cuisine and Peking Duck itself. Some people go to extraordinary lengths to make the perfect Peking Duck (not our recipe) but you can also eat it at many Chinese restaurants and where better than in spectacular Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is One of the Best Places to Eat Peking Duck
Hong Kong is indeed one of the most spectacular places you can eat Peking Duck, but it was not the first place I tasted this delicacy. Thanks to strong Chinese and Vietnamese migration into Australia, I have had the pleasure of observing the strong growth and popularity of Chinese and Vietnamese barbecue restaurants throughout Melbourne. And the 2 most popular dishes?
Why crispy-skinned pork with crackling to spare and whole, crispy-skinned barbecue ducks left to hang in the window. A combination plate of these 2 crispy-skinned meats or indeed a serve of Peking Duck is a very popular choice in Melbourne. And cheap! You can also buy a conveniently cut up half or full duck ($7/$14) to take home and put together your own Peking Duck if you so desire.
There are also some restaurants specializing in Peking Duck. You should seek these out and try them for yourself! But some restaurants will require 24-hour notice for Peking Duck. And yes the traditional method of making the dish is indeed a long cooking process.
I remember I was so impressed with Peking Duck as a teenager that I attempted to make it at home with my cousin. It was an all-day affair and I do remember attempting to dry out the duck with a hairdryer! (Part of the “secret sauce” to attain a crispy duck). And the verdict? We were exhausted and both agreed it was just easier and better to go to your local barbecue restaurant and enjoy it there!
So when I arrived in Hong Kong, I was very keen to make sure we ate this delicacy in one of the world’s most dynamic and colorful cities. As you would expect we saw Peking Duck featured in many Hong Kong restaurants. The cooked ducks hanging in the window are a bit of a giveaway. What a spectacular city to enjoy great food in. It surely is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world. And for lovers of Chinese food it is just heaven.
But you don’t need to visit Hong Kong or Melbourne or other big cities to enjoy Peking Duck, you can easily make it at home. And no hair dryers required!
Read on to find out how.
Cheats Peking Duck
This is not the traditional method of making Peking Duck but it does work well and it is easy.
If you are lucky enough to live near a Chinese or Vietnamese barbecue house, you can simply buy a whole duck. We provide a simple recipe that works well for cooking your own barbecue duck breasts, now freely available in supermarkets and butcheries all ready to cook.
You will find hoisin sauce in most large supermarkets these days. It is also available in any Chinese grocery store or supermarket.
Rice-based, pre-made Chinese pancakes can be purchased from a Chinese grocery store or supermarket. They should be warmed before you fill them. You can also use pre-made crepes or thin pancakes or you can just make your own.
Peking Duck is fun to put together. The contrast of the crispy duck, the sweetish hoisin sauce, the crunchy vegetables and the soft pancakes are a combination made in heaven.
Give them a try, you will love them!
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- 3 duck, breasts ready to cook, boneless
- salt, ground sea
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 1 pack pancakes, chinese rice-based, pre-made, warmed
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 cucumber finely sliced, lengthways
- 1/2 bunch onions, green (spring) finely sliced, lengthways
- Pre-heat oven to 390 f (200 c).
- Pat dry the duck breasts. Score the skin in a criss-cross pattern. Season with sea salt and five spice powder. Gently rub into the skin and scoring.
- On your cook top, heat an oven-proof fry pan to a medium heat. Once the fry pan is is well heated and using no oil. place duck breasts skin-side down and cook until the skin is golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the duck breasts and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and place in the pre-heated oven and cook for a further 8 to 10 minutes until done to your liking.
- Allow the duck to rest, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes. (The duck is usually served warm rather than hot). Slice the duck.
- Taking a warmed pancake, spread some hoisin sauce over it. Place some of the sliced duck, cucumber and green onion on the pancake. Peking Duck can be eaten as an open pancake or rolled up, depending on the size of your pancakes.
Francesca | The Working Mom's Travels
I know it’ll be a challenge for me if/when I get to Hong Kong (Asia, in general) because I don’t eat a lot of the typical food – like duck. And, honestly, seeing the ducks hanging in the window (even at home in Chicago, in our city’s Chinatown neighborhood), I get a little queasy. I’ll take your word for it about how delicious it is 🙂
Francesca, You will have no problem eating- vegetarian/beef/pork/chicken are very common options. But yes, throughout Asia, nothing goes to waste and they eat a lot of things that are in most people’s “exotic” categories.
duck pancakes are one of my all time favourite foods! I would go back to Hong Kong just for these. how good are those little packs of pancakes too – genius! great recipe
Jayne, Finding the pre-made chinese pancakes is such a time saver! And if we are really lazy luckily we can get peking duck at the local yum cha!
Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers
Ok I will try your cheats version as I’ve not found a place that does them up here yet and I’ve been missing them. I love the armchair travel through your blog. Thanks for linking to YWF too.
Vicki, Thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoy the armchair travel we try to appeal to the adventurous eater as well!
Nice way to prepare the duck. Though I never ate duck in my life, I can do the same with chicken.
Pooja, Yes or Turkey, although duck has a bit of a stronger taste. If you use a chicken see if you can find a rooster.
I wish I had one of those Chinese barbecue houses near me. Love Pekin Duck – but it’s definitely a treat dish!
Lisa, I don’t think I would try making it the traditional way at home, but this is pretty quick and a good way to get close at home!
I would love to get to Hong Kong at some time. In the meantime I can enjoy your Peking Duck at home.
Christie, Yes it is close enough to the real thing!
Annie @ Annie's Noms
I LOVE how easy this is!! What a wonderful way to make Peking Duck!
Yes it is a cheat’s version but the traditional method can take a day or two.
Sarah @ Champagne Tastes
There’s a restaurant nearby that serves duck burritos, and I keep thinking I should try more things duck lol. If I make it to Hong Kong, I’ll definitely go get some! Otherwise I might try making this at home- it looks pretty simple!
Good for you Sarah, go try those duck burritos. It is the crispy skin though that makes the Peking Duck. Give it a whirl!