“Peking” Duck

plum sauce

This is from Judith Wills’ Top 200 Low-Fat Recipes (out of print). It was nice, and very quick to make, but the duck itself, while virtuously low-fat, was a bit disappointing: no crispy skin! It was also a bit underdone; I think Peking duck really does need to be shreddable with a fork.

I would highly recommend buying the pancakes if they are available in your area; they aren’t here, so I had to make mine, using a Kenneth Lo recipe. Again, they are simple, but fiddly. It’s best to make them ahead of time and reheat in a steamer. That way, you will be relaxed when your guests arrive. I also recommend making more than you think you need, then you can throw away the ruined ones.

I was most pleased with the home-made plum sauce; effort vs. results was on a different scale to the other two items. Really delicious, and quick to make. I will certainly make this again … with real Peking duck next time 🙂

For 2:
1 large duck breast, skin on
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs runny honey

Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
Spring onions, cut into matchsticks

200 g red plums, stoned and chopped
100 ml white wine
25 g sugar
1cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
few drops of Tabasco, to taste
pinch salt

2 cups plain flour
1 cup boiling water
sesame oil (I used walnut, but ordinary vegetable oil will do)

To make the pancakes, put the flour in a bowl, pour in the boiling water, and mix with a wooden spoon till it holds together; do not knead. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and leave aside for 20 minutes. You can make the sauce in the meantime.

Using your hands, roll the dough into a sausage about 5cm in diameter, and cut into about 20 slices. Roll each slice into a ball, then on a floured surface roll each one out into a circle about 0.5 cm thick.

When they are all done, take two at a time and brush one side of one of them with oil. Place together, oiled side on the inside. Then roll out very thinly. Heat a dry, heavy frying pan on a medium heat, and cook each pair for about a minute on each side, turning over when they start to puff up slightly.

The difficult part: pull apart the two pancakes as soon as they are done. You need asbestos fingers for this, and probably the end of a table knife to ease them apart. Some will certainly tear. If you make them big enough, you can always trim off ragged edges to make them look more presentable.

Stack on a plate covered with a damp cloth, and either serve immediately, or set aside and steam for five minutes when ready to serve.

To make the sauce: simply put all the ingredients in a small pan and cook covered over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then uncover and set a timer for 15 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring more frequently to prevent it sticking or burning. You should end up with a jammy consistency; if it’s not quite ready when the pinger goes, cook a little longer, stirring to stop it burning. Put in a small bowl, discarding the cinnamon stick. This can be served warm or cold.

The duck breast is simply brushed with a mixture of soy and honey and grilled, starting with the skin side (I did it on our cast-iron grill pan). Make sure it is thoroughly cooked through; it will probably take about 20 minutes, turning once. Most of the fat will run out. Then let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before slicing thinly. If you are concerned about fat, cut off the skin and remaining fat.

Serve with the pancakes, sauce, and matchsticks of spring onion and cucumber. Each person assembles their own pancakes.

plum sauce and garnish for peking duck

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