When talking about mum’s recipe, it’s always the family’s favourite. I can still remember the first time my mum making this recipe when I was in primary school. She came back with all the ingredients, but NO oven. Actually no families had ovens in their kitchen at that time! People in China are used to buy the roast dishes in take aways and there are plenty of them.
But mum got her own way! She cut the duck into 4 portions, marinated them with soy sauce and spices, heated the wok with a dash of oil and lid on. Soon the heated oil filled in the space and created a hot moist oven environment! It was hard work trying to do a roast dinner in a wok, mum had to turn the ducks over and oven again, adding bit and bit oil in the wok so it didn’t burn the whole thing. I remember she covered herself in showering hat to prevent her hair catching smells. But it was all worth it! We still can’t find any roast ducks taste better in take aways!
Last year, when went back to China helping her redecorate the house, I put a brand new oven in her kitchen.
Prepare time: 10 minutes; Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients (serves 4-6) :
Duck crown: 900g (you can also use a whole duck);
Light soy sauce: 4 table spoon;
Dark soy sauce: 2 table spoon;
Sichuan peppercorn: 5g;
1) Clean the duck, I like to cut along the bird’s spine so it allows less time to cook. If you find it’s too messy, just jump over this step. Mix the light and dark soy sauce in a bowl and prepare the spices.
2) Get you hands dirty by massaging the duck with soy sauce mix inside-out the duck. Sprinkle the Sichuan peppercorn both on and inside the duck.
3) Place the duck in the oven dish with the skin side up. Use a sharp knife to stab about 20-30 holes on the skin (shallow stabs will do, this is to release more fat under the skin so that it can be crisper). Place the cloves in some of the holes (don’t worry if you don’t place them in every single hole, it does’t really matter).
4) Set oven temperature as 200C, cover the dish with foil and roast for one hour. You may find burned black flakes in the dish, it is soy sauce and it is very easy to get burned. Don’t worry too much as they are very light and easy to wash away later, leave them in as long as they are not creating any smoke.
5) Turn down the temperature to 180C. Take the dish out, baste the duck with the juice in the dish and roast it again in the oven without foil for another 30 minutes. This cooking time should give a crispy skin but still pink succulent meat on the bone. If you prefer even rarer meat, you can cut down this stage to 20 minutes.
And that’s it! Do remember to rest your duck so all the precious juice doesn’t lose out. When serve, use a knife to scrape off the Sichuan pepper corn and cloves on the duck — I am pretty sure you don’t want to bite in a Sichuan pepper, it will make a nasty sizzling in you month. But the smell makes the dish so appetising and unique, what a strange thing!