Duck has been roasted in China since the Southern and Northern Dynasties.A variation of roast duck was prepared for the Emperor of China in the Yuan Dynasty. The dish, originally named “Shaoyazi” (燒鴨子), was mentioned in the Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages (飲膳正要) manual in 1330 by Hu Sihui (忽思慧), an inspector of the imperial kitchen. The Peking Roast Duck that came to be associated with the term was fully developed during the later Ming Dynasty, and by then, Peking Duck was one of the main dishes on imperial court menus. The first restaurant specialising in Peking Duck, Bianyifang, was established in the Xianyukou, Qianmen area of Beijing in 1416.
By the Qianlong Period (1736–1796) of the Qing Dynasty, the popularity of Peking Duck spread to the upper classes, inspiring poetry from poets and scholars who enjoyed the dish. For instance, one of the verses of Duan Zhu Zhi Ci, a collection of Beijing poems was, “Fill your plates with roast duck and suckling pig”.In 1864, the Quanjude (全聚德) restaurant was established in Beijing. Yang Quanren (楊全仁), the founder of Quanjude, developed the hung oven to roast ducks. With its innovations and efficient management, the restaurant became well known in China, introducing the Peking Duck to the rest of the world.
By the mid-20th century, Peking Duck had become a national symbol of China, favored by tourists and diplomats alike.
- One 5 to 6 pound duck
- 8 cups water
- 1 slice ginger
- 1 scallion, cut into halves
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
- Scallions for garnish
Clean duck. Wipe dry and tie string around neck. Hang duck in cool, windy place 4 hours. Fill large wok with water. Bring to boil. Add ginger, scallion, honey, vinegar, and sherry. Bring to boil. Pour in dissolved cornstarch. Stir constantly.Place duck in large strainer above larger bowl. Scoop boiling mixture all over duck for about 10 minutes.
Hang duck again in cool, windy place for 6 hours until thoroughly dry.Place duck breast side up on a greased rack in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Set a pan filled with 2 inches of water in bottom of oven.(This is for drippings). Roast 30 minutes.
Turn duck and roast 30 minutes more. Turn breast side up again. Roast 10 minutes more.
Use sharp knife to cut off crispy skin. Serve meat and skin immediately on a prewarmed dish.
The duck is eaten hot with hoisin sauce rolled in Mandarin Crepes. Garnish with scallion flowerets. Serves 4 to 6.