Peking duck is a food I am always fascinated by. Each duck preparation is more or less the same yet the tastes are always noticeably different. Waterfowl like ducks tend to have much thicker subcutaneous fat than birds like chickens. Without this insulating layer, they would lose too much heat when they are in the water.
Traditional Peking Duck, the duck’s entrails are re-moved via a hole under one wing. The duck is then filled with cold water before being put in the oven. The water cools the interior of the duck, both directly and through evaporation.
Beyond a certain thickness the skin doesn’t respond well to high heat, and not enough of the water from the interior of the skin evaporates before the surface starts to burn. The solution is to add a drying step before cooking, and to use a relatively low temperature to dehydrate the skin. A subsequent high-heat step can then tackle the crisping.
Enjoying the duck tonight includes Chinese steamed pancakes some sliced cucumber, spring onion and some garlic sauce this time in place of a sweet hoisin sauce.
However, in many other experiences we’ve had, it involves eating the skin in the pancakes and tonight it wasn’t the skin, instead it was the more fatty skin and subcutaneous fat below that made its way into the pancakes.