Peking Duck

This delicious roast duck dish popularized in Beijing is known for crispy, intensely golden brown skin and tender meat. It traditionally takes days to prepare, but our version is ready in just over a day, with most of the time spent refrigerating the duck. The recipe gets plenty of flavor from a combination of soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spice, and hoisin sauce, resulting in a duck that's umami-rich and satisfying. While the duck roasts, the skin puffs up and traps some of the rendered fat, causing it to almost self-baste as it cooks. After it has been carved, it's served with Chinese buns or pancakes, cucumber and carrot matchsticks, thinly sliced scallions, and more hoisin sauce.

Peking duck
Photo: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 day 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings:
4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons honey, divided

  • 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice, divided

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 (4-pound) whole air-chilled duck (thawed, if frozen)

  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving

  • 8 boiling water, divided

  • For serving: thinly sliced cucumbers, carrots, and scallions, steamed buns or Mandarin pancakes

Directions

  1. Whisk together soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the honey, and 1 teaspoon of the Chinese five spice in a small bowl until combined; set aside. Stir together salt and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.

  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels; place a wire rack on top of paper towels, and set baking sheet aside. Pat duck dry with fresh paper towels, and remove and discard any excess fat around neck or cavity. Using your fingers, gently and carefully separate skin from meat, being careful not to tear any holes in skin. Brush duck evenly with soy sauce mixture, and sprinkle evenly with salt mixture, sprinkling some under skin. Place duck on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

  3. Stir together hoisin sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons Chinese five spice in a small bowl. Spoon hoisin mixture into duck cavity, and rub mixture into cavity using your hands. Insert a 6-inch wooden skewer into skin surrounding cavity near tail. Continue threading skewer through skin near cavity, alternating between left and right sides of cavity, to seal cavity. Place duck in a large heatproof bowl, and carefully pour 4 cups of the boiling water over breasts, legs, and wings of duck. Flip duck in bowl, and pour remaining 4 cups boiling water over back of duck. Pat duck dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Return duck to wire rack on baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place duck in a large roasting pan fitted with a wire rack. Roast in preheated oven until skin is mostly crisp and deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Without removing duck from oven, reduce oven temperature to 250°F, and continue roasting until fat no longer renders from duck and skin is very crispy and dark golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Carve. Serve duck alongside cucumber matchsticks, carrot matchsticks, thinly sliced scallions, Boiled Water Pancakes, and additional hoisin sauce.

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