14 March 2009

Crispy Chinese Duck

I've been experimenting with various recipes, and through bastardising and amalgamating them, I have managed to create a fantastic recipe for authentic Chinese crispy duck. If you've ever wanted to create this dish in your own home, but thought it impossible, here's how in 24 easy steps.

1) Go to Tesco's and buy some duck legs, don't bother with with a whole duck, they're really expensive, and legs are on offer at the moment. You'll also need some star anise, cinnamon sticks, spring onions, cloves, root ginger, szechaun peppercorns and shaoxing rice wine, the latter of which can be substituted for dry sherry. If you have no Peking Duck Sauce at home, buy some now also. I already have some at home, it being part of my Valentines Day hamper from mrsslippy.

2) Forget to put the sherry in the trolley so you can dash back through the supermarket to get some, and bump into a work colleague, who will ask why you are in such a rush to get home with a bottle of 'own brand sherry'.

3) Once home put the duck, a couple of cinnamon sicks, 4 star anise, a teaspoon each of the peppercorns and cloves, a few slices of ginger, and a couple of spring onions in a dish, then pour a couple of glugs of sherry over the top.

4) Take a big swig of the sherry 'for luck', and remember why you never drink the stuff normally.

5) Cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

6) A couple of hours later return to the fridge and get out a lemon, a bottle of quality gin (Bombay Sapphire works best, but Plymouth or Gordons will do in an emergency), and a bottle of tonic water. Make yourself a large G&T and go and watch TV.

7) Once consumed, repeat stage 6 until you are either bored of TV, or G&T. I have a strong tolerance for both, so suggest around 2am. If you're not confident in the kitchen, or in a hurry, you may prefer to stop this stage earlier. This is ok, and will not affect the quality of the duck.

8) Go to bed.

9) First thing in the morning (or around 10.30, whichever is more convenient), return to the fridge and give the duck a curious look. Leave it where it is and make some fresh coffee, then return to bed to watch the remaining hour and a half of Soccer a.m. If you want to follow the recipe to the letter, I suggest rewinding it to the beginning on Sky+, and then just fast forward through the adverts and shit bits - you should find you've synchronised by the time it finishes.

10) Go to your local Chinese supermarket to procure some of those little pancake things you use to wrap duck in that Tesco's doesn't seem to stock. Whilst there, don't forget to pick up a few packets of weird shit to experiment with at a later date ( I have some frozen purple yam, and tamarind amongst other things). Also remember to peer bemused into the freezers at some of the frozen/dried fishy things that you definitely won't be buying.

11) Once back home again take the duck, still in it's marinade and put the whole thing in a steamer.

12) Next, add a healthy portion of live Premiership football. I recommend using Man U 1 -4 Liverpool. It's very sweet - possibly too sweet for some tastes, and it is very difficult to get hold of, but well worth it if you can find some. If you find it bitter, get over it. A little bitter seasoning to your season isn't going to ruin the overall result.

13) Remove yourself from the sofa, and remove the duck from the steamer. A football match + interviews + highlights should be long enough, but if you don't have a game to hand, you can always use any of the Star Wars films, or a couple of Star Trek TNG episodes. If you cannot find any of these, you could try watching a clock for 2 hours, but it will be fucking tedious.
You may also find a large portion of battered sausage and chips from a van parked outside your house may help with the preparation process, although seasonal and regional availability may vary enormously.

14) Allow the duck to cool for long enough to realise your laptop is broken. It needs to be completely cooled, and dry (the duck that is, not the laptop). It may help if you cannot even get the laptop to boot in Safe Mode, instead just cycling though a loop of 'A disk error has occurred. Press ctrl-alt-del to restart'. This will allow you plenty of time to try and Google the error on the tiny screen on your smartphone, finally coming to conclusion that your hard drive is completely fucked.

15) Go and buy a new laptop. If you can pick a day when your local team is playing at home this will really help the ducks cooling/drying time. If you can't achieve this, just make sure that the sales assistant in PC World is first not interested in speaking to you, then once he's realised you want to buy something, will not stop trying to flog you extra's that you do not need.

16) Plug in and set up new laptop. Get frustrated by the helpful user guides that it insists on showing you.
"Stop it new computer - I know what I'm doing, just give me my internets back!"

17) Get pissed off because although you're not the best touch typist in the world, someones moved the fucking Shift key so you keep hitting \, and where's 'delete' gone? Also, be pleased that it now has a numeric pad to the right of the letter keys rather than just along the top row (always missed having one when playing Warcraft, maybe I should reinstall it on this machine? Maybe not...), but again a bit pissed because it means all the letters have moved slightly to the left to accommodate this.

18) Install Firefox, and be saddened that all your favourite add-ons are now missing. Fix the ones that you can remember, and restart the laptop.

19) Go back to the kitchen and fill a saucepan with oil, and set the gas ring on full. *SAFETY FIRST*- ensure your significant other is out of town on a hen/stag do so they cannot;
  • Question why you are deep frying food when you've been moaning about your weight.
  • Ask whether it should be bubbling/spitting so ferociously.
20) Carefully drop in the duck, then stand well back. Meanwhile, finely slice some cucumber, spring onions, and get the Peking Sauce out the cupboard.

21) Wrap your hand/arm in a damp teatowel so you can safely approach the saucepan, and fish out the duck. If it's been in for 5-6 minutes it should now be a chocolate brown colour, with crispy skin.

22) Smear the sauce on the pancakes, and roll up the filling. Be pleased with the result - it truly is fucking lush, and tastes just like the real thing.

23) After you've sorted yourself out, and shared some with your cats, remember to save some for your significant other, who may sulk if you've made duck and not left them any.

24) Return to your new laptop, and consider the prospect of having to reinstall everything that you either enjoy or rely on. All those passwords, all those applications, all those bookmarks, all gone. Have a quick blog to get it out your system, then go and make a G&T, you're going to need one.

But at least you had a nice dinner.

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