photo: Duck dish served in Chinese restaurants

Different countries across Asia have their own unique style of incorporating duck into their recipes as the main star of the dish.

1. Peking duck, Beijing

Approximately 600 years ago, the Peking duck was consumed during the Ming Dynasty in Beijing1. Prepared by palace chefs, it was one of the recipes that were leaked to the public as “foods fit for the Emperor”. Served as an appetizer, this dish rose to fame when court chefs started their own businesses after the fall of the Ching Dynasty in 1911.

To begin preparation, air is pumped into the ducks through their neck cavities to separate the skin from fats2. The ducks are blanched and glazed with maltose syrup before drying. They are cooked by roasting in the oven until the skin turns shiny brown and crispy, leaving the meat tender and juicy inside. The Peking duck is considered as one of China’s national dishes3. It is served by carving the duck into lean pieces and paired with thin pancakes, sliced cucumbers and sweet bean sauce.

2. Braised duck rice, Singapore

The braised duck rice dish originates from Singapore. Commonly found at hawker centers, food courts and restaurants, a plate of duck rice consists of braised duck with yam or plain rice. To prepare this dish, the duck is marinated with salt for hours to get rid of its odor. Before cooking, the duck is immersed in a pot full of dark soy sauce and water. The meat is braised for approximately two hours under low heat, allowing the meat to absorb the sauce4.

The duck is deboned and sliced thinly before serving. Similar to the chicken rice dish, the meat is also served with other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs and cucumber slices. Gravy is also drizzled all over the duck to enhance the flavor of the dish.

3. Nanjing salted duck, Nanjing

Having gained popularity since the Qing Dynasty from 1644 to 1911, the Nanjing salted duck is a crowd’s favorite5. Famous for its fragrance from Osmanthus flowers and tender meat, this dish is also known as Osmanthus duck.

To produce the heavenly taste of the Nanjing salted duck, the duck is rubbed with a mixture of Sichuan peppercorn and salt. The duck is later marinated for 48 hours before submerging in cold water for an hour. It is coated with sesame oil before serving. In Nanjing, the locals usually share this duck dish with each other during dinner. It is best consumed during autumn and winter, where Osmanthus flowers are tossed into the mixture for extra fragrance6.

Jurries, A. (2016). A Cultural Classic: Peking Duck – The Official Globe Trekker Website. [online] The Official Globe Trekker Website. Available at: http://www.pilotguides.com/articles/a-cultural-classic-peking-duck/
2 Bryant, S. (2007). Peking Duck 101: Recipe : ABC Adelaide. [online] Web.archive.org. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20071206124404/

3 Amelinckx, A. (2015). A Brief History of Peking Duck – Modern Farmer. [online] Modern Farmer. Available at: http://modernfarmer.com/2015/06/a-brief-history-of-peking-duck/
4 Tay, L. (2015). Teochew Braised Duck Recipe – ieatishootipost. [online] ieatishootipost. Available at: http://ieatishootipost.sg/teochew-braised-duck-recipe/
5 Loh, P. (2010). [online] Chinadaily.com.cn. Available at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2010-01/09/content_9292474.htm
6 Kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com. (2016). Nanjing Salted Duck. [online] Available at: http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/en/8K5061K11143.html