A Christmas Story, beyond its bunny suits and leg lamps, is fondly remembered by Generation X-ers for its unfortunate portrayal of Chinese-Americans, and their alluring turkey alternative: peking duck. Crisp skin, juicy meat, deep flavor, all wrapped up in a Mandarin-style pancake with thinly sliced cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce? Fa la la la la, la la la la.
- Star anise
- Fennel seed
- Szechuan peppercorns
- One head-on young Peking duck
- Soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp honey
- Small knob ofgGinger
- A clove of garlic
- 2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame seed oil
- 1 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce
- 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
- Ground black pepper
- About 2 Tbsp brown sugar
For Mandarin Style Pancakes:
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- Sesame oil
Begin by making a Chinese five-spice mixture by toasting some cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel seed, and szechuan peppercorn in a dry skillet until fragrant and then grinding
them to a fine powder.
Next, make a hoisin sauce by combining 4 Tbsp of soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of honey, a small knob of freshly grated ginger, a clove of freshly grated garlic, 2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar, 2 tsp of sesame seed oil, 1 Tbsp of chili-garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp of smooth peanut butter, a few solid pinches of the Chinese five- spice mixture, ground pepper, and about 2 Tbsp of brown sugar.
If the sauce gets too thin, thicken with cornstarch.
Dump about half of the hoisin sauce into the cavity of the duck and stitch it closed using a bamboo skewer.
Now, in order to separate the skin from the meat, insert an air compressor tip (covered with the finger of a rubber glove with a hole in the tip) into the neck skin of the duck.
Inflate the skin enough to peel it away from the duck meat.
Boil about 4 cups of water with about ¼ cup of soy sauce and some of the Chinese five-spice mixture.
Ladle the boiling mixture onto the duck until the skin takes a nice golden color and tightens up considerably.
Let the duck rest in the fridge uncovered for at least one day and ideally 3 days. If you're pressed for time, dry out the skin with a hair dryer.
Roast the duck at 350°F for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
While the duck roasts, make a Mandarin-style pancake by combining 2/3 of a cup of boiling water with 10 ounces of all-purpose flour until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead until smooth and supple.
Roll into a 2-inch log and divide into 24 pieces.
Cover the pieces in plastic wrap until ready to use them.
When ready to use, divide one piece at a time in half and roll both halves into 3-inch round pieces.
Brush one side with a light layer of sesame seed oil.
Sandwich the oiled sides together and role the whole thing into a 7 to 9 inch pancake.
Toast the pancake in a dry pan until light brown spots begin to form.
Carve the duck breast meat in 1/2 inch slices.
Fill a pancake with finely sliced cucumber and scallions, add the duck meat and top with a bit of the hoisin sauce.