History of Peking duck:
Duck’s history as a delicacy in China draws back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Originally, the dish was named “shāo yāzi” but as Peking Roast Duck that came to be associated with the term was fully developed during the later Ming Dynasty, and by then, it was one of the main dishes on imperial court menus.
The first restaurant specializing in Peking Duck, Bianyifang, was established in the Xianyukou, in 1416. There is a similar dich in Vietnam, made of chicken, named Gà Quay Mật Ong.
Raising the duck:
A special dish demands special meat, so ducks are feed with a fodder rich in minerals in the last two weeks of their lives. To let their meat be tender and their skin thin they are kept inactive during this period. When slaughtered, an ideal duck weights 2-3 kilograms.
Traditional preparation of Peking duck is full of mystery, and it is quite complicated, so it worth to have it in specified restaurants.
Skin is the most important part that goes through a special treatment prior to the roasting.
- Having the duck cleaned, air is pumped under the skin through a small cut on the neck to separate the skin from the meat.
- To get the duck eviscerated, a second cut comes under the wing. Then cut the legs and soak it in boiling water several times. Then the duck is glazed with honey or maltose syrup and hung up to rest for a couple of hours.
- Having been prepared, marinated and dried the duck is roasted for hours in a special oven heated with firewood from the region. Because of the slow cooking, the meat combines well with the fat under the skin, it gets crispy and puts the typical shiny red colour on.
The cooked duck is carved in front of the guests. The skin is cut into 138 slices, served with Chinese pancakes, Hoisin sauce and spring onions. The meat is cut into similar slices as well, garnished with different side dishes is served as a main course. In respect of Chinese traditions, the rest of the duck is being prepared as a soup that is the end course of the dinner.