Video: How to Make Crispy Peking Duck

Make restaurant-worthy peking duck at home.

Imagine the best Peking Duck you’ve ever had. That crispy, amber-toned skin. That juicy, melt-in-your-mouth breast meat. Those deeply nuanced, deeply aromatic flavors, expertly engineered to send your pleasure sensors a-spinnin’. Now imagine you made that duck—and at home.

Sound like a stretch? We get it. Topping last-meal lists the world over, this legendary Chinese dish—famously favored by such boldface dignitaries as Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, and Fidel Castro—is complex and showy. So complex and showy, in fact, that we often assume it’s outside the purview of home cooks. But while Peking Duck is mind-alteringly delicious enough to build lasting bridges between one-time geopolitical adversaries, it’s also just something people cook for dinner. And trust us, we’re not just blowing air between your skin and your back meat when we say it’s something you can make for dinner. We’re going to show you how.

But before we do, let’s get our proverbial ducks in a row: it ain’t gonna be easy, and it ain’t gonna be quick. Your kids may ask why you cleared all their Go-Gurts and juice boxes out of the fridge. Your neighbor may inquire about how that air compressor got from her garage shelf to your kitchen counter. And your significant other may well wonder about an Amazon email ensuring a bucket of maltose is on its way. The trick—as with many challenging yet rewarding tasks—is to break the process down into clear steps, patiently moving through each until you arrive at the finish. And oh, what a finish: we’ll show you how to carve your bird in the manner of the best Chinese restaurants, making the most of every morsel. So when you serve that cracklin’ duck alongside paper-thin pancakes or pillowy steamed buns, your guests will have the very special pleasure of feasting on one of the world’s great foods.

Get the full recipe at

Read the transcript of this video
And this is gonna take you five days, so don't say I didn't warn you. [MUSIC] When Peking duck is done right, it's a very special thing. It's one of my favorite dishes, and my favorite way to eat duck. I would go to Chinese restaurants, and I would order it all the time. Everywhere I went, if it was on the menu, I got it. Sometimes it's incredible, but sometimes it's not so good. So I wanted to develop a recipe that you could do at home, and every time, it's incredible. You're gonna have super crispy, glassy back skin and really nice, pink, tender breast meat. I'm not gonna lie to you, Peking duck is a very complex recipe. The places that make it great break it up into steps and put the time and attention to each of them. So plan in advance, clean out your fridge, let's make Peking Duck. Here's our duck. This is a Pekin duck. So two main things to keep in mind when selecting a duck. You like to have a head on. It makes it easier to hang, as well as you need to select a duck which is lean. Like right here that's a good example. You can actually see through it down to the meat. If there's too much fat the skin is not going to be crispy. All set? Let's clean up the duck. So now we're just looking for patches of feathers. We're not removed. [MUSIC] So now we're going to remove the excess fat right here. Very easy to do. Your moving by hand, you don't need a knife to do this. Okay, duck's clean. Let's start making our five spice rub. First we're going to mix together the spices. [MUSIC] [SOUND] [MUSIC] It's gonna get real. Just rubbing the inside. Coating it, getting the flavor in there. [MUSIC] If you get some of rub on the skin, don't worry about it because we're gonna be blanching it shortly and it'll come right off. With this trusty bamboo skewer, we're gonna sew this guy up. We'll start at the top [SOUND] Cut the centimeter out. So you go over. [MUSIC] Over. [MUSIC] And then we're gonna go all the way through the [UNKNOWN]. [SOUND] All right, now it's time to separate the skin from the flesh below it. We're going to show you the ultimate way of doing that and that is with an air compressor. So, what I'd like to do is cover up the bottom here and trap the air in and we don't blow out any of the nice hoisin, five-spice rub that we put in there. So we're going to come in through the neck here. Okay, ready. [NOISE] [MUSIC] And we're gonna separate the back skin now. Just above the meat right here, I wanna make a little slit. And that's where the nozzle's gonna go in. [MUSIC] Towel on top. And since there's an opening in the neck over here, just like to pinch that. [MUSIC] You can tell that it's separate now if you look at it. Feel the air move it. Check out the joint in there, find it. [MUSIC] And now we're just going to poach the outside. I prefer basting it like this instead of submerging it. Because I don't want the cavity of the bird to fill up with water. Cuz it's just gonna wash away all the nice flavor that we put in there. [MUSIC] So you really want to incorporate the flavor that's in this broth. Surprisingly there's a lot. The more you do this the more the skin will get a light amber color. It's about a minute and a half on each side. The next step is to make a glaze. Start with the maltose syrup. It's gonna help us get a nice mahogany color. I like to add some soy sauce too. [MUSIC] We have our glaze that's slightly warm. This is just to help us get our first coat on here so we'll have two coats per side. Don't worry about it being super even the weight of the syrup will cause it to drip down it will naturally even itself out. So now with a thin first coating on the bird To get a thicker second one, I'm just going to chill down my maltose syrup slightly. So, this will continue to drip off when it's in the fridge. Right now, it's super sticky. We'll know it's starting to dry out nicely in the fridge, when it gets a nice tacky Texture. [MUSIC] One more step and that'll be it for day one. Grab a skewer and stick it into each wing. This will help spread the skin across the back, making it crispier when you fry it. We're going to hang the duck from the top. If you can't hang it, prop it up in a pan so you get more air flow around it, helping dry the skin out. So, the salt has been pulling out a lot of moisture from the bird, you can kind of see it kind of drying out a bit here So it's kind of filled with moisture in the cavity. We want to get rid of that. [MUSIC] Okay, time to smoke it. [MUSIC] [SOUND] So now we have some wood chips here. And we're going to get them starting to smolder with this blow torch here. [MUSIC] We're going to put them in this top left hand corner up by the neck. This neck meat is not gonna yield that great a skin cuz there's a lot of fat beneath it. So this is an area of the bird that we can sacrifice. Now we're gonna need to make a hole over here for ventilation. [MUSIC] It's been ten minutes, we're gonna check on our wood chips. They need to be re-lit. [SOUND] [MUSIC] So we are done smoking. Remove the foil. [MUSIC] You don't wanna wrap it too tight because we want the steam to be able to escape. [MUSIC] Traditionally, Peking ducks are cooked while being hung in a oven, so how we get around that is every 30 minutes or 15 minutes or so, we like to hang the bird. All right. It's been 15 minutes. So what you should be seeing right now is little pockets of fat kinda starting to surface here. The overall surface of the bird should still look very, very dry. This is good. So it's been 30 minutes in the oven. [MUSIC] Been lots of fat that is rendered out. Now we wanna get rid of that. We don't want the breast to be frying in the bottom. We're gonna hang it up. We're gonna allow a lot of the moisture and fat that's trapped just beneath the skin to come out the bottom. It's gonna help us get our nice, crispy skin. [MUSIC] Now we're gonna put him back into a dry pan. Backside up again. At this stage, we getting rid of these last little bits of fat, and crisping up the skin. [MUSIC] Now we're at the end of the second roast and we're going to hang it for the final time just before we fry it. [MUSIC] I set the feet down in the oil. [SOUND] And [BLANK_AUDIO] gently ladle some super hot oil. I first like to do an overall coating, and then I like to go towards the blonder areas. You'll see the skin pull away like that, that's a really good sign. [MUSIC] All right it's looking good. [MUSIC] Okay look at that skin. Now I'm going to show you how to carve it up to make the most out of all the crispy goodness. I like to work on a towel so it doesn't get soggy on the skin side. Cutting the head off. We first want to do is get the back skin off while it's still crispy. Now what I like to do is remove the wing, so you have better access to that. So carve around the skin. So where just basically cutting a pattern all the way around the bird. [MUSIC] That's like perfect. This is as good as it gets. [MUSIC] We've taken all of the back skin off. And then we're gonna remove this little bamboo skewer. This is called [UNKNOWN]. It's his favorite little lollypop part and then we're gonna remove the breast and cut up the legs. There you have it. That's how you make incredibly Pekin duck at all. Juicy breast and crispy delicious back skin With a little patience and a lot of love you can serve a friends a delicious feast. [MUSIC] So go on make Peking duck. Serve it with some steam buns. It's worth it. [MUSIC]
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Video: How to Make Crispy Peking Duck