Recipe by Alan Leonetti
This is one of the most complicated Chinese dishes to do, because of its 4-part preparation process. Mandarin Duck is also one of the most delectable Chinese dishes you'll ever eat! Many restaurants simply fry commercial pressed duck & then top it with a thick brown sauce. This recipe gives you the authentic procedure, complete with all the steps. Do yourself a favor & TAKE NO SHORTCUTS! It's well worth the effort!
INGREDIENTS FOR PREPPING THE DUCK
- 1 (3 -5 lb) long island duck
- 1 cup peanut oil
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
INGREDIENTS FOR POACHING THE DUCK
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 4 whole star anise
- 6 whole cloves
- white pepper
- 1⁄2 tangerine peel (dried)
- 2 ounces sliced gingerroot
- 4 green onions (tied in knots)
- all-purpose flour
INGREDIENTS FOR THE MANDARIN SAUCE
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs (coarsely chopped)
- 2 cups of the poaching stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3⁄4 head of crushed garlic
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Directions See How It's Made
- In a large skillet heat the peanut oil to medium-hot.
- In the meantime, dry the duck with several layers of paper towels.
- Brush the duck liberally with the soy sauce, being certain to paint it all over and thoroughly.
- When it is fully brushed, place the duck into the hot peanut oiled skillet and fry it on both sides until it turns a dark golden brown.
- While the duck is frying, bring to a boil a pot of water deep enough to completely submerge the duck.
- Into the pot, add a bouquet garni made of 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 4 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves, salt and white pepper, dried peel from 1/2 of a tangerine, about 2 oz. sliced ginger root, 4 green onions (tied in knots), and water.
- After the stock has simmered for about 20 minutes to release the essences from the bouquet, take the fried duck and place it into the stockpot.
- At this point, lower the heat and poach the duck for exactly 1 hour.
- This causes the thick fat layer in the duck to dissolve and be extracted from under the skin.
- When the allotted cooking time is done, remove the duck from the stockpot, drain it well, and allow it to cool.
- Cut the duck in half and remove the rib bones, back bones, neck bones, and thigh bones (but leave the drumstick and wing bones on for presentation).
- IMMEDIATELY sprinkle the duck halves with salt and white pepper.
- Then sprinkle the duck halves evenly with cornstarch.
- Then sprinkle over the cornstarch with cold water.
- Then top everything off by the sprinkling of all-purpose flour.
- Then place both duck halves on a metal steamer rack and set the rack down inside the stockpot that you poached the duck in originally.
- With the burner set to medium, cover and steam the duck halves for 20 minutes.
- As soon as they come out of the steamer pot, transfer the duck halves to a preheated 375 degree oven.
- In about 15 to 20 minutes the oven heat will cause the water from the steaming process to evaporate from the duck meat, consequently crisping up the skin in the process.
- This is probably the most critical part of the entire recipe, because a miscalculation here could completely dry out the duck and make it stringy instead of crispy and juicy.
- So, it is important to watch the halves carefully while they are in the oven.
- You'll now make the Mandarin Sauce from these ingredients listed in the ingredients section: 1 small onion diced, 2 ribs celery (coarsely chopped), 2 cups of the poaching stock, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 3/4 head of crushed garlic, 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
- While the halves are crisping, take about 1/2 cup of the oil from the skillet you originally browned the duck in and pour it into a wok.
- Then over high heat, fry down until the veggies are richly browned.
- When all the veggies have caramelized (which intensely flavors the oil and which should take about 5 minutes or so), spoon into the wok about 3 or 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cook it into the oil to make a roux.
- Then, carefully ladle into the roux about 1 or 2 cups of the poaching stock to make a gravy.
- This is where the intensity of the flavors is created.
- The stock is ultra-rich in duck flavor, and the roux is ultra-rich in caramelized onions and garlic.
- Finally, when you are ready to serve the dish, remove the duck from the oven, cut it into julienned strips, and place it on a platter.
- Then finish the Mandarin Sauce by stirring into the gravy 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken it.
- Serve over a bed of white rice if desired.
- I know it is a lot of work, but very few other dishes even come close to the taste of this great dish!
- NOTES: To make and use a bouquet garni, simply tie up the herbs you select in a piece of cheesecloth and simmer them in water for at least 20 minutes.
- When you steam the duck halves, rest them on top of strips of green onions or carrot slices so that the steam can circulate under the meat. Otherwise, the duck will not cook consistantly.
- Be careful when adding the poaching stock to the hot roux. If this is done carelessly, the oil could splatter and cause severe burns! When doing this, I wrap a thick towel around my arm.