Instant Improver

How to make the perfect crispy duck

Many things taste better when they’re crispy: bacon, marshmallows, pizza, and, erm, crisps - obviously. But when it comes to the ultimate food that tastes better with a crunch, that title can proudly be held aloft by Peking Duck.

With this in mind, we traipsed into the kitchen at Gilagamesh - London’s paramount Pan-Asian restaurant - to ask head chef Ian Pengelley, how best to prepare one…

Ingredients:

• 1 whole duck

• 1 table spoon of five spice

• 1 table spoon of salt

• 1 tea spoon of sugar

• 3 pieces of star-anise

• 3 large spring onions

• 1 large thumb size knob of ginger loosely cut

• 6 tablespoons of maltose (soft brown sugar can be an alternative)

• 1 teaspoon of red colouring

• ½ pint of water

• ¼ pint of rice vinegar

Method:

• In a large bowl, bruise together the five spice, salt, sugar, spring onions, star-anise and ginger in a mortar and pestle fashion.

• Once you have the resulting mixture, stuff it into the cavity and coat the entire insides of the bird. Then close the cavity – using two skewers can work best.

• Bring a large saucepan to the boil and shower the duck three times with the water, so that the skin becomes really taut.

• Now bring another saucepan to the boil, this time containing the maltose and red colouring (for great colour), ½ pint of water and ¼ pint of vinegar and repeat the same showering process.

• Hang the bird in a dry place for 24 hours – a vital stage in making the bird crisp before roasting.

• When putting it in the oven, have the duck on a wire rack, so all the fat drips away, leaving it really crispy. Roast at 220°C for around 45 minutes.

• When serving, shred the duck and serve with steamed pancakes, strips of cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce. But concentrate on carving as much skin as possible. In Hong Kong, that’s the most important part – the rest can be used for a curry the next day.

Image: rex