The Ultimately Crispy, Amber-Hued Pekin Duck Recipe

You can hear about this traditional dish everywhere, especially in Chinese diners. Some restaurants have mastered to make a superb taste out of this bird, but there are also some diners who haven’t been able to reach the fine-dining quality. And I am here to show you how to make the ultimately crispy, amber-hued Pekin duck recipe right at the comforts of your own kitchen so you can develop this recipe anytime you want.


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Before starting, let me tell you the preparation for this recipe takes five days. Yes, you read it right; it takes five days before you could reap the succulence of this delightful recipe. So this requires preparation of the mind and the willingness to be patient the entire process. After all, all your effort will surely pay off.

When you do this right, you are sure to create an incredible recipe with super crispy skin and a great, pink tender breast meat that’s quite similar to those served at 5-star restaurants. This means that following the steps below allows you to make a classic, mouth-watering dish that you can be proud of!

Another thing, this is honestly a complicated recipe that requires your time and attention with every step along the way. So make sure you have the right equipment and ingredients before you are doing this. So let’s get started!

Select a duck.

The main star of this recipe is, of course, a Pekin Duck – a breed of domestic duck used mainly for meat and egg production. Two things make a Pekin duck good for this recipe. First is you must use a duck with head on so you can easily hang it.


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Secondly, you must select a lean duck. Depending on your location, fresh Pekin ducks can be brought at poultry farms; some have additional fees when you request for a dressed one. You would want to buy a ready-to-cook bird instead of making the effort of killing and cleaning the duck yourself.


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This is a great example as you can see through it down to the meat. When there’s too much fat, the skin will not be that crispy.

After you have chosen a nice Pekin duck, it’s time to gather the tools required. So here’s the equipment you’re going to need: pliers, skewers, scissors, brush, and air compressor. When you’re all set, you’re ready for Day 1!


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Day 1.

First, clean up the dressed duck by finding the remaining patches of feathers from the skin that were not removed during the initial cleanup done in the poultry farm. Use the pliers when removing the feather pieces.


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Now you have to remove the excess fat in the bottom part of the body just as shown in the picture. Use your bare hand when doing this step and make sure to wear gloves for hygienic purposes.


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Now you have to make the Chinese five-spice powder that consists of fennel seed, clove, Szechuan peppercorn, star anise, and cinnamon. If you don’t have these in your kitchen yet, make sure you gather them before preparing the recipe. Now grind all the spices in your grinder until they become powder. Get the measurement of the ingredients here.


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Next, grab a small bowl and pour in the following: hoisin, a teaspoon of salt, and the Chinese five-spice powder you just made previously. Also, grate ginger and garlic and mix the bowl thoroughly.


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Put the mixture inside the duck with a spoon. Now use your hand (while wearing gloves) to rub the mixture inside. Spread the coat evenly to make sure the flavor is distributed well in the meat.


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Now you have to skew the duck to make an enclosure. To do this, grab a small bamboo stick (about 8-10 cm long) with a sharp end; if not sharp enough, you can use a knife to carve the end part so it can penetrate well through the skin.


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Skewing is simple. First, point the stick about 1cm away from the top part of the opening. Let the stick penetrate through the skin and to the other side of the opening, as if you are sewing a cloth. Now sew the other side again and continue the cycle until you’re able to sew down to the tip, so the entire opening is closed.


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Using your scissors, cut the excess of the bamboo skewer.

Now it’s time to separate the skin from the flesh below it, and the best way to do that is by using an air compressor. You can borrow from a friend if you don’t have one. First, cover the bottom with a towel where the sewed opening is so the air won’t be able to escape. Make sure to hold the towel with one of your hands while the other holds the nozzle while you blow the duck with air.


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Now insert the air compressor nozzle through the neck and start blowing the body with air until you can see the skin separate from the meat. By doing that, you’re able to ensure a super crispy skin at the end. After that, uncover the bottom to release the air.


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But it doesn’t end there. Next, you need to separate the back skin; gently flip the duck to its back.  You might want to make a little slit using a knife at the bottom part. This is where you’ll insert the nozzle.


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Now cover the slit part with a towel and fold the neck to trap the air inside. Turn on the air compressor so to blow the duck with air again. Turn off the compressor once you see the skin detached from the meat.

After which, remove the wings and feet with scissors; try to find the joints and cut the part there.


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The next step is to poach the duck. Make a broth by filling a large pan with water. Sprinkle with salt and the Chinese five spices in their non-powder form. Add some soy sauce and mix well. Now bring the mixture to a boil. Set timer for 5 minutes after boil before poaching the duck.


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While wearing gloves, grab the duck by the neck and raise it just above the pan. Note: Do not immerse the duck in the boiling mixture. Just hover it right above the pan and use a ladle to pour the mixture into the skin. The reason why you shouldn’t submerge the duck into the mixture is that you have to avoid washing the tasty mixture you have spread inside and wasting the flavor in it.


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You would want to incorporate the rich flavor that’s in this broth, so you have to pour it repeatedly until the skin gets an amber color.


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The next step is to make another mixture. Get a small cooking pot and pour some maltose syrup; this will give the duck a nice mahogany color. After which, add some soy sauce and heat the mixture until thin enough to spread.


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Allow the mixture to cool down for a couple of minutes. While waiting for the mixture, you can hang the duck using its neck attached to a hook. Once warm; start glazing the bird with the brush that you have prepared while ago. Coat until you have covered the entire outer part. You don’t have to worry about even distribution because the mixture will scatter itself evenly while dripping. Make sure that you’re able to collect the drips; don’t waste any mixture as you will use it again for the second coating. Now put the duck inside the fridge to make the first coating sticky to the skin. This also makes a better texture.


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Now for the second coating; put the pot (with the maltose syrup mixture) on ice until it cools and becomes thick. Another way is putting it in the fridge together with the duck for about 30 minutes or so. The fridge is the recommended way to cool down because it makes the maltose syrup thick faster than putting it on the ice.


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Once cool, start applying the thicker second coating.


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Now grab a skewer and stick it into each wing; this will help spread the skin across the back making it crispier when you fry it later.


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Now hang your duck from the top.


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If you can’t hang it, put it in a casserole but put two parallel sticks to elevate the duck without it touching the bottom of the pan. This is to increase air flow helping to dry the skin up. Now wait for five days.


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So that’s it for day 1! Get ready for day 5!

Day 5.

Expect your amber-colored duck to become dry with no moisture after storing it for five days. Remember that dry bird means dry skin. Along with that, there will be moisture at the cavity (bottom part). Use your scissors and get rid of the tail to drain moisture.


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Now it’s time to smoke! Place your Pekin duck in a baking pan and cover with foil. Get some applewood chips and fire it with a blow torch.


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Now put the applewood chips in the top-left corner of your baking pan where the neck is located. Make sure the wood chips are behind the neck because this is the area of the bird we can “sacrifice”.


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Now make a hole at the opposite end of the foil cover to make ventilation. Now smoke at room temperature for about 30 minutes. You can also do it longer for a smokier flavor. You should also relight the wood chips as needed. When you can no longer see smoke coming out of the hole, it’s a sign that you need to relight. On average, you can “refill” every 10 minutes.


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After you’ve done smoking, it’s time to roast it! Previously, you’ve covered the baking pan, but in this step, it’s the duck itself that you will cover. Make you sure you roll the foil well in the entire duck so the steam can’t leave. Note: you can reuse the same foil you’ve used just previously.

Now roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (equivalent to 175 degrees Celsius) for about 30 minutes. If you’ll check it after 15 minutes, you could notice the fat slowly rendering out of the skin like pockets that starts to surface.


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Typically, roast ducks are cooked while hung. To get around that, you need to hang the duck every 30 minutes. So, after cooking the duck for the first 30 minutes, hang it for about 5 minutes and allow moisture to drip below.

View more helpful Tips For Choosing A Roasting Pan.


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Now put it back in a dry pan in the same position to make it ready for another roasting. This is to finally remove all remaining bits of fat. So, cook it again for another 10-30 minutes at the same temperature (350 degrees Fahrenheit).For the final time, hang the roasted duck again for another 5 minutes.

Roasting twice is not the final step, though. You still need it to fry it. Fill a pan with oil and heat to about 390 F or 200 C.

Remember how you poached the duck with the broth? It’s the same way when you fry it. Grab the Pekin Duck by the neck and slowly dip the feet in the oil; don’t immerse the duck entirely. Now give the bird a bath with the hot oil! It’s like doing an overall coating just with oil.


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It’s a good sign to see the skin pull away; it means it has become crispy. Do this until golden brown!

You’re almost done! Now lay your fried Pekin duck in a tray. Note: Put a towel in the tray; this will absorb the residual oil that’s coming out of the bird. By that, you can retain the crispiness of the recipe.

View more The Ultimate Oil Guide For Healthy Cooking.


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Now remove the head using your scissors. You might want to grip the neck with a towel so you won’t touch the duck.


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Next, remove the skewer that holds the wings. After which, remove the wings using a knife. By doing so, you’ll have better access in removing the crisply back skin. Now cut a line around the back skin. It’s making a pattern all the way around the bird.


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After which, cut back skin into quarters, dividing the back skin into four parts.


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Now start carving out the skin with the same knife. You can use the aid of your other hand by slowly peeling the skin away from the body. The back skin is the crispiest part of the bird; you’ll surely be delighted to eat the skin alone (without the meat).


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Now remove the skin’s extra fat away from the internal part by slitting it with a knife.

Remove the bamboo skewer on the front part so you can then cut the entire body into pieces. You must also remove the breast and then cut off the legs. You can get step-by-step carving instructions here.


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So, that’s how you make an incredible Pekin duck at home! The breasts alone with the crispy back skin are so delightful enough! With love and perseverance, you’ll be able to make the ultimately crispy, amber-hued Pekin duck recipe right at your home! You can also make a delicious feat by adding other recipes in the table which the whole family could enjoy!