Here’s another delicious recipe from Matt Preston’s latest book, Yummy, Easy, Quick Around the World (Pan Macmillan Australia). This time Matt tells us how to prepare a Chinese favourite:
I call it ‘the pistachio eíect’ – those foods that are so delicious you can’t stop eating them. Hot chips have that addictive allure, as does chocolate, and ice-cream when someone leaves the tub right in front of you. So, too, do young brussel sprouts tossed in a fish sauce caramel (check out page 83). Or is that just me?
Sometimes it’s down to the heavenly but rather wicked ‘golden ratio’ of animal fat and sugar, and I suspect that this – along with my natural greed – is part of the reason I find it hard to stop eating Peking duck pancakes. But there is more than just the sweet sauce, crispy maltose-glazed duck skin and duck fat going on here. The perfect Peking duck pancake is all about the journey of the teeth: through soft pancake, crispy skin, a thin layer of juicy, yielding fat that has almost been totally rendered away, then meat and the refreshing crunch of cucumber and spring onion, all bound together with a thin coating of sweet sauce – usually hoisin.
Traditionally in Beijing, the duck meat will be cut into over 80 slices, each with a little bit of skin, and served with shredded leek or spring onion (cucumber is a more recent arrival). And pickles can add a nice little diíerence. These traditions inspired our ‘at home Peking duck’ – which is convenient because making Peking duck the traditional way is a three-day process of drying, glazing, pumping up the duck with a bicycle pump to help the skin separate from the flesh, and roasting! Ideally, it also requires a Peking duck from
Nanjing. Yummy, yes; easy and quick, no!
Serves 4 (12 pancakes) Prep: 20 minutes Cooking: 20 minutes
4 °— 200 g duck breast fillets
finely grated zest and juice of
1 small orange
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce,
plus extra toserve
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
12 store-bought Asian pancakes (see TIPS)
1/2 bunch spring onions, white and dark
green parts shredded into strips
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves picked
Quick Cucumber Pickle
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
2 star anise
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons black vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan-forced (the high temperature helps to render the fat). Line a baking tray with foil. Pat the duck dry with paper towel and use a sharp knife to score the skin on an angle at 5 mm intervals. Set aside.
Pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes or until reduced by half. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
Add the hoisin, five spice and orange zest to the reduced orange juice and stir to combine. Add the scored duck breasts and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared tray, skin-side up, and roast for 12 minutes or until the fat has rendered, the sauce is sticky and the duck is cooked through. Set aside, uncovered, to rest for 5 minutes.
It’s now time to make the cucumber pickle. Halve the cucumbers lengthways and usea teaspoon to remove the seeds. Slice the cucumber diagonally into slices. Place in a bowl with the remaining pickle ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Warm your pancakes in the microwave for 15 seconds. Slice the duck and serve with the pancakes, pickled cucumber, shredded spring onion, coriander and extra hoisin sauce.
To save time, buy a roast Peking duck from your Asian butcher and ask them to slice it and remove the bones for you.
Asian pancakes are available from Asian grocers. If unavailable, try using soft tacosormake some crepes at home.
Yummy, Easy, Quick: Around the World by Matt Preston, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Mark Roper