Recipe of the week: twice-cooked duck with mandarin sauce by Neil Perry

06 January 2022
Recipe of the week: twice-cooked duck with mandarin sauce by Neil Perry

I love the Chinese use of multiple cooking methods. Here the initial steaming or poaching of the duck does two things: it renders some of the fat from the duck; and, because the duck is already cooked, it can be cut into portions and pressed overnight before its second cooking, which is great when entertaining.

By the time you come to pop the duck into the hot oil, you are ready, your duck is ready and your sauce is ready. This mandarin sauce is one we made for years at the original Rockpool – the caramel is very moreish.

Serves 4

  • 1 x 2 kg peking duck
  • 1.25 litres vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 60g cornflour
  • Steamed rice, to serve

For the marinade

  • 1½tbs light soy sauce
  • 60ml shaoxing wine
  • 2 spring onions, white parts only, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 pieces dried tangerine peel
  • 1 knob of ginger, finely diced
  • 1 star anise, crushed
  • 20g yellow rock sugar

For the mandarin sauce

  • 220g grated palm sugar
  • Peel from 1 mandarin, pith removed, cut into very fine julienne strips
  • 3tbs fine julienne strips of ginger
  • 2½tbs fish sauce
  • 2½tbs mandarin juice
  • 2 mandarins, segmented

Place the duck on a chopping board and remove the fat from the cavity. Cut off the winglets and neck, and with a cleaver, split the duck in half.

For the marinade, put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for two minutes, then allow to cool. Place the duck in a bowl and rub the cooled marinade all over it. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least three hours, preferably overnight.

Place the duck in a large bamboo steamer and steam over a wok or pan of boiling water for 45 minutes, topping up the water as needed.

When the duck is cool enough to handle but still slightly warm, carefully remove the bones, taking care not to break the skin. Use a small knife to ease out the wing and leg bones. You should end up with two rectangles of duck.

Fold all the skin under and cover them loosely with plastic wrap (they will spread as they are pressed), then put into a container. Place another container that fits snugly inside the first on top, followed by a heavy weight, such as a few cans of food.

Refrigerate overnight.

For the mandarin sauce, put the palm sugar into a small heavy-based saucepan with 60ml of water and bring to the boil. Add the mandarin peel and ginger and continue to cook until the palm sugar turns a dark caramel colour. Stir in the fish sauce and mandarin juice, then add the mandarin segments and keep warm. Pour the deep-frying oil into a wok and heat to 180°C. To check the temperature without a thermometer, drop in a small piece of bread – it should bubble up to the surface of the oil and start frying immediately.

Place the cornflour on a plate and roll the pressed duck in it, making sure it is fully coated. Carefully lower the duck into the hot oil and fry for about 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown, then drain on paper towel.

Place the duck on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut into slices. Arrange the slices on a platter, spoon over some of the mandarin sauce and serve with plenty of steamed rice and the remaining sauce on the side.

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