You will see these golden, crisp ducks hanging in restaurant windows all over China, but they are most often found in Beijing.
Their aromatic smell lingers in the streets and most restaurants will have this delicious dish on their menu. Peking duck holds a long history and has been prepared since the imperial era. Its long preparation and the manner in which it is served make this a popular dish for celebratory meals or official ordeals; it is now considered a national dish of China and truly has become an important part of Chinese tradition. The first restaurant specialising in Peking duck, Bianyifang, was founded in Beijing in 1416. The restaurant quickly became well known in China and introduced Peking duck to the rest of the world.
Peking duck should traditionally be eaten entirely and sliced in front of the diners by the cook. First, the crispy skin is served separately with a sauce, it tastes sweet and is surprisingly rich in flavour. Then the meat is served with thin steamed rice pancakes, sliced cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce- a thick sauce made out of soy, red chillies, garlic, vinegar and sugar.
The head- and with that the brain- is served as well and although this may seem odd due to the lack of meat, it is quite lovely and definitely shouldn’t be left aside. Lastly, the carcass is used to make a broth and served with rice towards the end of the meal.
Chinese restaurants as we know them in the West, serve a similar version of the traditional Peking Duck better known as “crispy fried duck”. Here the spiced and usually slow-roasted meat is shredded and served, like the traditional Peking duck, with pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce.
I absolutely love Peking duck! It tastes like China and is a must when visiting the country or even when ordering take-out from the Chinese restaurant around the corner. But why not learn to make your own Peking duck and enjoy it again and again?
You can find the recipe for traditional Peking duck HERE or alternatively find the recipe for a simpler and faster homemade Peking duck HERE