Chinese roast duck or Cantonese roast duck is a type of Siu mei 燒味. These are marinated meats cooked over an open fire or on a rotisseries spit. They are brushed with specially created sauces and have a deep BBQ flavour. In Hong Kong it Siu mei is a staple part of the diet. It is estimated the average resident eats Sui mei around every four days. The most famous Cantonese roast meat is Char siu 叉燒 or Chinese BBQ Roast Pork. Siu mei is often sold in Chinese BBQ shops alongside other Cantonese-style preserved meats and pickles. Although similar in style Chinese Roast Duck should not be confused with Peking Duck.
Chinese Roast Duck vs Peking Duck
Peking duck is an altogether more elaborate dish. It was formally served in the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Peking duck is very time-consuming to prepare and can take several days. A skilled chef inflates the duck skin to aid drying. The duck is seasoned with a complex mix of spices and glazed with syrup. It is then traditionally roasted over a fire made from fruit trees such as peach or pear. The cooked duck is then carved in 108 cuts to separate the meat and skin from the bone.
Formally the skin is eaten first with a sweet bean paste. Then the meat is eaten with thinly sliced vegetables such as spring onion, cucumber or pickled radish, freshly steamed pancakes, and hoisin sauce. Today a simpler version of this dish is found in Chinese take-away restaurants worldwide. Finally, the carcass is boiled with spices to make a fragrant broth. This is served with silky tofu and Chinese cabbage.
How to prepare Cantonese Roast Duck
There are a couple of secrets to successfully oven roast duck in the Cantonese style at home. First, carefully scald the skin of the duck. Place it on a rack in your sink and pour over a kettle full of freshly boiled water. This will help you attain wonderfully crisp skin.
The second secret is to allow sufficient time to apply several layers of the glaze to your duck. Allowing the skin to dry in between on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Place the duck on a rack in a deep tray and brush the glaze over the skin every three to four hours.
Cantonese Roast Duck
- A large food grade plastic bag
- 2 kg Duckling
For the Marinade
For the Glaze
- 150 ml Runny Honey
- 150 ml Golden Syrup
- 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- A few drops of red food colouring optional
- 250 ml warm water
- Take your duck remove any organs, the wing tips, wash thoroughly and drain.
- Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large heavy-duty food safe plastic bag and place in the duck. Seal and shake then place in the bottom of your fridge. Leave overnight and turn over a couple times if possible.
- Remove from the bag and wipe off the excess marinade then place on a rack in the bottom of your sink and carefully pour over a kettle of freshly boiled water. Pat dry and leave for a few minutes.
- Brush with the glaze and allow to dry. Then repeat two or three times so the duck is a nice even colour.
- Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5
- Wrap the wings with foil to prevent the wings get burned and place breast sides down in an oven proof baking tray. Place the tray in the oven.
- Roast the duck for an hour and remove from the oven. Turn the oven up to 425 F / 220 C / Gas Mark 7.
- Very carefully remove the foil and return to the oven for another fifteen minutes until a deep brown colour and crisp.
- Remove from the oven again and rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces. Garnish and serve with hoisin sauce.