|December 12, 2013|
Image:PekingDuck.jpg|thumbnail|Peking Duck, served in a more Western style with more meat than skin.
The dish is mostly prized for the thin, crispy skin with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat. Most restaurants will make two dishes out of one duck -- one with thin slices of skin with a small layer of fat underneath, and another one with the duck meat. The latter is often a noodle or a stir-fry dish. The leftover duck is often then given to patrons so that it can be later boiled into soup.
The history of the Peking Duck can be traced as far back as the Yuan dynasty (1206 - 1368). By the time of the early 15th century it had become one of the favorite dishes of the imperial Ming_dynasty|Ming family.
The two most famous restaurants in Beijing which serve this specialty are 全聚德 (Quanjude) and 便宜房 (Bianyifang). Both establishments have a history of well over a hundred years and have an extensive network of chain stores.
Peking Duck requires a duck with its head still attached. First, it is inflated with an air pump or other object, separating the skin from the body. Then the skin is scalded with boiling water to make it drier and tauter and brushed with malt sugar (molasses) so that it acquires a dark, rich color with the slight aroma of caramel during the subsequent cooking process. After drying for half a day, the duck is hung by its neck in a hot oven where it is roasted for an hour or more, during which time the copious fat of the duck melts off and the skin becomes crispy. Because a large oven is required, Peking Duck is not usually prepared at home; Peking Duck is customarily eaten in a restaurant or bought already prepared at shops or restaurants and taken home to eat.
In China, a special breed of duck is reared in the North exclusively for this dish. The ducks are kept in individual cages and force-fed so that they grow plump and without muscle. Peking duck is thus also called Peking stuffed duck (北京填鸭, pinyin: běijīng tián yā) because of that. (In Chinese, when students memorize books for public examinations without understanding the contents, it is called "Peking duck-style education".)
In the US, the health-conscious Americans often find the excessive fat under the duck skin unpalatable. The chefs there find creative ways to either remove the fat during the skin separation step or cut strategically placed holes near the bottom of the duck to let the grease drip away during cooking. Usually regular ducks are used for their lesser fat content. Strictly speaking, the Peking Duck served in the US is often not authentic due to Western consumer preferences.
A traditional way of serving Peking Duck is with steamed mu-shi flour pancakes, slivered spring onions (also known as scallions), hoisin sauce, and plum sauce. (Other restaurants will use man tou, a type of Chinese fluffy steamed bun.) One places pieces of chopped duck meat on a pancake, adds a bit of hoisin sauce, plum sauce, and scallion. The mixture is rolled up and eaten with the fingers.
See also: Mandarin cuisine
GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Peking Duck".
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