Peking Roast Duck is a well-known duck dish in Beijing that has been considered one of the most delicious dishes all over the world. The dish originated in the Yuan Dynasty and now has become the cultural symbol of traditional Chinese food. Most visitors coming to Beijing will not miss the chance to try the Peking Roast Duck.
The history of the roast duck can be traced back to as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) when it was listed among the imperial dishes. During the Qianlong period (1736-1796) of the Qing Dynasty, roast duck was a favorite delicacy of the upper classes. Over a long period of development, a consummate and precise procedure for cooking Peking Roast Duck has been firmly established.
The cooking procedure of Peking Roast Duck is rather complicated. First, a suitable White Beijing Duck will be chosen for preparation. After the bird has been plucked, air is pumped between its skin and flesh. Secondly, and once the bird has been thoroughly cleaned, a wooden skewer is inserted through it to facilitate its hanging and ultimate heating. Thirdly, the skin of the duck is air dried and brushed with a layer of sugar. Fourthly, the duck is then put into a large oven, using a smokeless hardwood fuel and heating to about 270 degrees Centigrade for 30 to 40 minutes. The duck is turned frequently during the roasting process to ensure even cooking. Then the Peking Roast Duck is done.
Traditionally, the cooked duck will be sliced by the chef in front of the diners. The slicing of the meat from the carcass of the duck is an art in itself. A skilled chef is able to cut between 100 and 120 slices in four or five minutes, each slice with an equal portion of both skin and meat.
After being well sliced, the duck is served in following steps. First, the skin is served dipped in sugar and garlic sauce. The meat is then served with steamed pancakes, shallots and sweet bean sauce. Several vegetable dishes are provided to accompany the meat, typically cucumber sticks. Afterwards, the diners spread sauce, and optionally sugar, over the pancake. The pancake is wrapped around the meat with the vegetables and eaten by hand. The remaining meat and bones of the duck may be made into a tasty broth.
Where to eat
The two most notable restaurants in Beijing which serve the authentic Peking Roast Duck are Quanjude and Bianyifang, two centuries-old restaurants which are well known all over the world.