Ideally the ducks used are young and fat, usually they weight 5 to 6 pounds and are less than three months old. They are forced fed for the last two weeks of their lives and live in restricted conditions to encourage them to gain weight quickly.
3 1/2 to 4 pounds duck, fresh
1 tsp. maltose
5 tsp. boiling water
1. Remove the oil sac from behind the duck’s tail, then pour boiling water all over its exterior. Dry the skin carefully and paint all over with a syrup of maltose and boiling water.
2. Hang the duck up to dry. It does not need sun but wind.
3. After 30 minutes, repaint all over and continue drying for at least 4 hours. Alternatively, use a hairdryer.
4. Hang the duck from the bars of an oven shelf, placed in its highest position, over a day trip or dish in a preheated oven (425°F, Gas 7). Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190°F, Gas 5 and continue the cooking. Allow 12 minutes per 1lb and 12 minutes extra.
5. Serve the duck first by cutting off the crisp skin in thin slices and put them on to a heated plate. Then carve the meat in think slices and put them on to other heated plates. Eat a slice of meat or skin together with a strip of scallion and a little barbecue sauce wrapped inside a thin Peking pancake.
To make mandarin pancakes for Peking Duck:
1. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into 2 cups of flour in a bowl. Mix flour and water until a smooth dough is formed. Leave to stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Knead the dough and form it into a cylinder. Cut off pieces from the cylinder, each weighing 2/3 oz (20g). Divide each piece into two and flatten with the palm of your hand. Make a pair of circles. Brush on top of one lightly with sesame oil. Place un-oiled one on top. With a rolling pin, flatten each pair into 6” circle.
3. Cook the circles one at a time in a heavy ungreased skillet over moderate hit. The skillet should be free of any oil or water.
4. When it begins to puff up, separate the halves gently. Since they dry up after a while, steam just before serving.
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On the topic of Peking duck an amusing story is told about a miser called Jia. One day Jia felt the craving for roast duck, but could not bring himself to part with any of his cash. At the roast duck shop he could not resist putting his fingers to a fat-dripping., appetizing duck. Having done that he then went home, and licking one finger, downed one bowl of rice; he continued to eat three more bowls of rice in this way before retiring to bed with one finger still unlicked. While Jia was fast asleep, a dog came and licked his finger clean. Discovering the loss when he woke up, Jia was disconsolate, fell ill and did not recover. Such was the deliciousness of Peking Duck.