Crispy aromatic duck

This classic takeaway favourite is great for sharing ­– try serving it on a platter for people to help themselves

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Serves: 4–6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 ½ hours


1 x 2.75kg (6lb) duck, fresh or frozen

6 slices of fresh root ginger

6 spring onions, cut in to 7.5cm/3in length

cornflour, plain flour or potato flour for dusting

1.2 litres groundnut oil

For the spice rub

2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder

765g Sichuan peppercorns

25g whole black peppercorns

3 tbsp cumin seeds

200g rock salt

To serve

Chinese pancakes

6 spring onions, finely shredded

Hoisin sauce


1.     If the duck is frozen, thaw it thoroughly, rinse well and blot completely dry with kitchen paper.

2.     Mix all the ingredients for the spice rub together in a small bowl, then rub the duck inside and out with this mixture, applying it evenly.

3.     Wrap well in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

4.     After this time, brush any excess spice rub from the duck. Stuff the ginger and spring onions into the cavity and put the duck on to a heatproof plate.

5.     Set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok. Fill it with about 5cm/2in of water and bring to the boil. Lower the duck and plate into the steamer and cover tightly.

6.     Steam gently for 2 hours, pouring away any excess fat from time to time. Add more water as necessary.

7.     Remove the duck from the steamer and pour off all the liquid. Discard the ginger and spring onions. Leave the duck in a cool place for 2 hours until it has dried and cooled. At this point the duck can be refrigerated.

8.     Just before you are ready to serve, cut the duck into quarters and dust with your chosen flour, shaking off any excess.

9.     Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fat fryer. When it is almost smoking, deep-fry the duck quarters in two batches. Fry the breasts for about 8-10 minutes and the thighs and legs for about 12-15 minutes, until each quarter is crisp and heated completely through.

10.  Drain the duck on kitchen paper and leave until cool enough to handle. When cool, remove the meat from the bones and shred it. You can do this easily with a fork.

11.  Serve with the Chinese pancakes, spring onions and hoisin sauce.

Recipe and Images courtesy of Ken Hom. To find out more, visit

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