Happy Chinese New Year!
We are now in the year of the Dragon according to the Chinese calendar. This is the most powerful of the Chinese signs, and symbolises strength and good fortune. Chinese New Year is a time of celebration and feasting. Our family is very fortunate to be hosting a Chinese student by the name of Jing Yuan Chun. Chun has prepared a special celebration dish for us which her family usually eat on special occasions.
Chun says that she has never prepared this dish before but she has seen it being made. Like most Chinese families they will usually eat this meal in a restaurant, as Chinese households do not usually have an oven.
For dinner tonight we have our family, my mum and Jiang chao (kaka), Chun’s boyfriend all joining us for dinner so we have be prepared two ducks for the meal. Chun has been demonstrating the technique on the first duck; I have been diligently taking notes and preparing the second duck as per her instructions.
1 T/s salt
1 tsp Szechuan pepper (sweet)
3 star anise
½ t/s ground cinnamon
¾ ts ground ginger
1 green shallot sliced length ways
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup honey
5 potatoes sliced
Dry the duck with a paper towel. Rub salt all over the duck.
In a mortar a pestle, pound the star anise and szechuan pepper roughly, set aside.
Mix the soy sauce and rice wine in a bowl and add all the spices include the star anise mixture. Add the sliced shallot.
Place the duck in a bowl and pour the marinade over.
Ensure all the duck is covered with the marinade. Cover the duck with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turn the duck periodically.
Next day prior to cooking, remove the duck from the marinade. Dispose of the marinade and allow the duck to air dry.
To make the basting liquid combine the honey and vinegar and allow to stand.
Once the duck is completely dry baste the bird in the sauce.
Ensure that all areas are completely covered in the sauce. Continue to sit the duck on the bench so that the basting liquid will dry.
Once the basting liquid has dried on the duck wrap the drumstick and wings in foil to prevent burning.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
Slice the potato into ¾ cm thick rounds and place in a layer on a covered baking tray. Add the duck to the potato layer.
Cook the duck for 1 hour. Half way through the cooking time remove the duck from the oven and repeat the basting process. The duck must again be completely dry prior to entering the oven.
Once the second 30 minutes cooking period has elapsed remove the duck and baste again using the same drying process. Increase the oven temperature to 220 degrees and cook for a further 15minutes to crisp the skin.
I can’t tell you how amazing the kitchen smelled whilst the duck was cooking. The aroma was of a rich star anise and sweet honey sauce.
The duck was served with sliced crunchy cucumber from my garden a sweet soy sauce and potato which had been roasted with the duck. These fillings combined with the duck in a warmed flat bread as a delicious rich sweet parcel.
The duck itself had a sweet and salty crisp skin with the delicious after taste on Star Anise and Ginger. The duck flesh was very moist, sweet and succulent. Chun explained that because duck is a sweet meat the accompaniments should always be sweet to compliment the flavour.
It was such an amazing meal, I am so grateful to Chun for sharing this feast with us and giving us the opportunity to learn more about the food she enjoys in China and how she celebrate the important days in her culture.
I was surprised to learn that because Chun and her boyfriend were both born in the year of the Dragon that the coming year was supposed to be fraught with danger and obstacles which would need to be overcome. Chuns father is very concerned that she is out of the country for this inauspicious year. KaKa explained that the repeated year can be very difficult.
I am looking forward to sharing our Australia day with Chun and Kaka. Although China having a history which span over 5000 years old, kind of makes Australia look like an infant by comparison 🙂
So tell me readers do you join in celebrations from other cultures such as Bastille Day for the French, thanksgiving for the Americans or perhaps St Patrick’s Day?