Peking Duck with Apple and Tamarind Sauce

  • Serves4
  • DifficultyHard
2-2.5kg duck
50g soft brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2.5 centimetres root ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
2 shallots, peeled and halved
2 star anise
Peanut oil for crisping (optional)

For the brining solution

140g brown sugar
200ml warm water
700ml cold water
1 tablespoon salt
300ml Chinese rice vinegar or cider vinegar

For the sauce

3 tablespoons runny honey
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
To serve:
1 large granny smith apple, sliced into matchsticks with the skin on Chinese wheat flour pancakes, heated until crispy and toasted in a non-stick saucepan
Micro herbs
Curly spring onions

1. Clean the duck and cut off its wings, then remove the innards (you can get your butcher to do this for you). Wash the duck cavity well, then pat it dry. Using a sharp skewer, make small pricks over the skin, being careful not to damage the skin too much. In a baking tray carefully pour 150 millilitres of boiling water all over the skin of the duck as this will help to tighten it, resulting in a crisp skin once it’s cooked. Pat the duck dry inside and out.

2. To make the brining solution, dissolve the sugar and salt in the warm water and then mix in the cold water and add the vinegar. Place the duck in a large roasting dish and pour the solution over it. Chill it for a minimum of 3 hours, or up to 24 hours, turning the duck a few times. Remove the duck and pat it dry, discarding the brining solution. Place it on a wire rack over a large roasting tin and chill, uncovered, overnight. Before cooking, remove it from the fridge and leave it to rest for an hour to hep the skin dry out.

3. Combine the sugar, salt and five spice and rub this thoroughly inside the duck. Stuff the cavity of the duck with the ginger, shallots and star anise. Using a skewer, seal the cavity by weaving it through the skin. Heat the oven to 150°C.

4. With the duck still on the roasting rack over the roasting tin, cook for 2 hours 15 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Increase the heat to 240 degrees Centigrade and cook for a further 10-15 minutes to crisp the skin. if you like your duck even crispier, heat a pan of peanut oil to 180°C, or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds.

5. Carefully ladle the hot oil over the skin to crisp it further, until the skin turns golden brown. Mix together the runny honey and tamarind paste and stir well.

6. Toast the Chinese pancakes whole on a low heat in a non-stick frying pan.

7. Remove and serve with apple, micro herbs and spring onion. You can keep the pancakes warm in a tray covered with foil.

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