Cantonese-style Roast Duck

Nothing beats a roast duck on Sunday
Roasting a duck is on my bucket list. Seriously. After much apprehension (and lots of hesitation), Ellie's step-by-step guide became the all-consuming last push I needed to give it a go. And I did (obviously)

My first admission is that it was good but wasn't perfect on my first try, which made me almost not want to post this up. On the other hand, I thought I should share some pointers and recount some of the missteps so that yours can turn out as close to perfection as possible, when you're ready :)

All in all, we had crispy and moist duck meat served with fresh crunchy cucumber! It was even better à la Peking Duck-style with wrap and (awesome) sauce. The sauce, I must stress was the saving grace (even just dipping with cucumber was pure bliss!)

  • 1.5 kg duck
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tbs sweet bean sauce (or labeled as Peking Duck Sauce/甜面酱)
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
Adapted from Almost Bourdain

  1. Bring a large pot (enough to fit the whole duck in with lid close) of water to boil and submerge the duck in for 2 minutes
  2. Discard water and set aside to let it cool
  3. At the mean time, blend garlic, ginger, chilies and sweet bean sauce until it forms a paste
  4. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir-fry the paste until fragrant
  5. Add sugar and 3 tablespoons of water 
  6. Continue frying for another minute before turning off the heat and set aside
  7. Rub the cavity of the duck with salt and five spice mixture
  8. Once the blended and stir-fried paste have cooled, stuff the cavity of the duck with the paste and stitch it up with a wooden skewer (or kitchen twine)
  9. Melt honey with 6 tablespoon of water (add a pinch of salt) and brush it all over the duck, especially in between the wings and drumstick areas to ensure even roasting. Be sure to coat all over the duck repeatedly until the mixture are all finished
  10. This is the most important step: air dry the duck by hanging it in well ventilated area overnight. I only dry it for 3 hours (according to recipe) as I timed it to be ready for lunch. The timing is great for Sydney weather (that's where Ellie is from) but not so in a tropical climate where humidity is much higher. To be safe, I'd advice overnight for complete dryness, if press for time refrigerate it for 2 hours should work too (source from Modern Classics Book 1)
  11. Once ready, preheat the oven at 180°C and put the duck breast-side up on the grill of a roasting pan for over an hour. In fact mine took over 1 hour and 30 minutes and flip the duck breast-side down for another 30 minutes for a more even roasting. I felt that the longer the roasting, the more fats the duck burns and seep to the bottom of the pan, leaving the skin more crispy 
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  1. Remove the skewer from the duck and scope out the paste to a non stick pan
  2. Stir all the ingredients above in a bowl and pour it to the paste 
  3. Stir-fry the mixture until it bubbles and thickened
Carve the duck the way you'd carve a turkey because the crispiness of the skin can be dampened if you slice the duck in half, which is what we did. The steaming hot insides turned some parts of the skin soggy, which is a big no-no for this style! 
We didn't actually have (or made) Chinese pancakes, so it's just an ordinary shelf-bought wrap with sliced duck meat, julienne cucumber and the delicious sauce. Thank goodness for Justin's knife to save the day :)


  1. Looks gorgeous to me though! When I saw Ellie's post sometime back I was tempted too but somehow have been putting it off..thanks for the delicious reminder! Really a must-try!

  2. Yum! I've had some really good peking duck in my time and have always wanted to know what goes into the making of a duck that's crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Great post!

  3. You did a fantastic job in making a perfect roast duck!

  4. You did a good job. I made this too following Ellie's recipe but not really successful because the duck was too big but I love the sauce. I'm going to try it again.

  5. This looks so so good...!! I miss Peking duck, it's extremely expensive here and you always have to order it in advance :(.

  6. wow, this is very impressive! I wouldn't even know where to begin!

  7. @ Min, your duck looks great! I will put down a note on the air dry process. It definitely needs longer timing in humid climate. It's important to touch and feel the duck to make sure it completely dry. Love a the observations. Thanks for the shout out.

  8. Looks amazing! I love duck, the fat from the bird makes the meat taste fantastic. Your photos are gorgeous, too :)

  9. Wow! That is a feat, to me! Awesome!

  10. Yum! What a treat! Need to make me some soon!

  11. That looks so delicious - as long as it's moist and crispy - it's successful in some ways right? :) what an effort! I don't think im patient enough to make something as extravagant as this!

  12. That loooks sooo good and I like what u said abt the fat dripping off. That means more to enjoy without the fat! Well done!!

  13. Well, I'm impressed! Looks like some restaurant-style cooking :)

  14. Wow all the comments! Thank *you* so much for your kind words!

    @Cooking Gallery
    Time to make your own! :P

    Thanks for stopping by ;)

    Nice to see you here!

    Haha yes, just not quite crispy on every inch of the duck

    I'm so flattered!

  15. I've never roasted a duck, but I'd love to try it. And, then be able to make duck stock and have duck fat for other uses. It does sound great with the sauce. And, not perfect? It looks perfect!

  16. That looks FABULOUS! I'm beyond impressed!!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  17. Wow, your roast duck looks great, love the color.

  18. Thanks for the great tips! Even if it didn't turn out perfectly as you envisioned, it looks beautiful in the pictures and I'm sure that sweet, roasted skin tasted incredible.

  19. Peking duck is one of my most favorite things in the world. Your duck looks beautiful with that burnished color. I've made duck breasts before, but whole duck intimidates me, especially with that long drying-out process.

  20. ah ! i love this!!!
    why do you always tempt me with all my favorite foods?!

    my tummy is grumbling constantlyyyy haha ^ ^

  21. How tempting, even though I just ate!

  22. That skin is beautiful! What a treat. I love duck prepared in that manner.