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Peking roast duck | Updated: 2014-03-22 15:26

Peking roast duck

Peking roast duck [Photo/icpress]

Peking roast duck has the reputation of being the most delicious food in Beijing. It is usually a fixed item of dinner on any Beijingtour itinerary. Eating Beijing doast duck is also one of the two things you are absolutely supposed to do while in Beijing-- the other one is climbing the Great Wall. The hometown of roasted duck is actually Nanjing city of Jiangsu province in East China. In the 19th year (1421) during the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the emperor moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, and hence roasted duck was introduced to Beijing and became an imperial dish.

Peking ducks are called force-fed ducks, which are raised for the sole purpose of making the food. Force-fed, they are kept in cages which restrain them from moving about, so as to fatten them up and make the meat comparably tender.

Peking roast duck has two kinds: Menlu roast duck (duck roasted in the oven) and Gualu roast duck (duck roasted over the hire). The preparations include: first rubbing the ducks with spices, salt and sugar, and then hanging them in the air for some time. To make a Menlu one, first burn the Kaoliang stalks in the oven till the sides of the oven turn hot, then put the ready-duck inside until the duck is baked date-red and shining with oil by the heat of the oven and the remaining heat of the ash. To make a Gualu roast duck, the ready-duck is baked in the oven directly over the burning wood of peach, jujube or date trees, which give off a special fragrance, with very little smoke; bake until the duck becomes brown with rich grease perspiring outside and have a nice odor. The best roast duck has a crisp skin and tender meat.

Peking roast duck is always served in well-cut slices. The chef cuts the meat into thin slices, each having a piece of skin and perfect with the complete layers of the meat. Then the meat is served with very thin pancakes, Chinese onions and special sauce -- usually sweet bean sauce. The way to eat it is to coat the thin pancake with sauce, slap on a few pieces of meat and roll up the pancake. Chopsticks are optional: it is much easier just to grab the thing with your bare hands. Normally there are many dishes served with the duck, including a dish of fine-cut shallot bars, a dish of cucumber bars and finally a dish of paste-like soy of fermented wheat flour. The dinner usually ends with a rich cream-colored duck soup made from the duck.

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