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Peking (Beijing) Roast Duck

Beijing Roast Duck is thought to be one of the most delicious dishes in the world. Most visitors coming to Beijing make sure to try some, and for good reason.

The history of Beijing Roast Duck can be traced all the way back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) when it was listed among the imperial dishes in the Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages, written in 1330 by Hu Sihui, an inspector of the imperial kitchen. Details regarding the cooking process were also described in this early cookbook. In the early 15th century, when the Ming Dynasty capital was shifted from Nanjing to Beijing, roast duck remained one of the most popular dishes on imperial court menus.

The art of Beijing Roast Duck evolved from techniques used to prepare sucking pigs. Over a long period of development exceeding some 140 years, a consummate and precise procedure for cooking Beijing Roast Duck has been firmly established.

The process of making Beijing Roast Duck goes like this. First a whole duck or ducks is chosen. The ducks are rubbed with spices, salt and sugar, and then hung in the air for some time. The belly is cut open and a 2 inch long piece of wood is inserted to support the chest bone and to stretch the skin. The duck is hooked by the neck, and diluted maltose is spread over it before the duck is once again hung in an airy place to dry. The stuffed duck is hung in the roaster and kettles of hot water are placed in front to fill out the duck. Proper timing and temperature are important and the duck is turned often enough to roast them completely and evenly. When roasted and dried, the duck will appear a brilliant dark red, shining with oil and with crisp skin and tender meat. It looks absolutely delicious and is almost impossible to resist.

Now it's time to serve it! First, the chef will show you the whole duck. Then, he will slice it into about one hundred and twenty pieces with both skin and meat for each. Usually the duck is served together with a kind of special Chinese "pancakes", hollowed sesame bun, green onions, and sweet sauce. Diners can wrap duck slices, onion, and sauce in a pancake or a sesame bun with their bare hands. Sometimes people would like to put in mashed garlic and cucumber or carrot strips as well. Some young women like to dip slices into white sugar directly. The best thing about Beijing Roast Duck is that it is not only traditional, but it is tasty too!

Peking duck Peking Roast Duck
The Beijing duck is roasted until it turns golden brown with rich grease perspiring outside and have a nice odor. Beijing Roast Duck is usually served with special pancakes, hollowed sesame bun, green onions and sweet sauce.

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