Nanjing Saltwater Duck
1 large duck, at least 1.5 to 2 kg
Dry rub for duck:
100 g Sichuan peppercorns
100 g sea salt
Master Stock spice mix:
100 g old ginger, sliced
6 stalks spring onions, cut into 4 cm lengths
100 g rock sugar
100 g sea salt
5 star anise pods
5 cinnamon quills
3 tsp fennel
3 tsp cumin
3 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 whole dried Chinese citrus peel
50 g licorice root slices
5 liters water
1. Prepare the dry rub by toasting the Sichuan peppercorn and salt mixture over a gentle fire. When the mixture releases its fragrance, remove, cool and pound the mixture until the peppercorns are well incorporated with the salt.
2. Rub the mixture vigorously over the duck skin and pay equal attention to the body cavity. Make sure a generous layer of the salt/peppercorn mix covers the whole bird. Place the duck in a zip-lock bag and let it stand in the fridge for at least 48 hours, longer if possible.
3. While duck is marinating, prepare the white master stock.
4. Place all the dry spices in a muslin bag (or soup bag), tie tightly and add to a full pot of water (about 5 liters). Bring to a boil, add the salt, rock sugar, spring onion sections and the old ginger slices. Allow the master stock to return to a boil. Skim the surface to remove any scum.
5. After 5 minutes, reduce to a simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the ginger and spring onions. Keeping them in the stock will make it bitter.
6. On the day you want to cook the duck, rinse off the bird in COLD water and let it sit covered in iced water for an hour. This will remove the surface saltiness.
7. Bring a pot of water to the boil and plunge the duck in. Immediately remove and refresh in ice-cold water. This step tightens the skin, and removes any "flabbiness".
8. Heat up the white master stock and when this is boiling, ease the duck into the pot. Bring the stock back to boiling point, then IMMEDIATELY remove the whole pot from the stove. Set it down to cool, with the duck still in the pot.
9. After half an hour, drain the duck and allow to cool completely.
10. When the master stock has also cooled to room temperature, replace the duck and allow it to sit in the stock overnight.
11. To serve, remove the duck, drain well, and cut into serving pieces.
12. Return the master stock to the stove and bring it up to the boil. Turn off the heat, cool and store. The master stock gets better and better with every duck it cooks, so make sure you keep it safe in a corner of the fridge.