Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 large duck, about 1.5 to 2 kg
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked rice
150 g dried lotus seeds, soaked
6-8 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and sliced
200 g cooked chestnuts
100 g Yunnan ham, diced
1 Chinese sausage, diced
8-10 dried Chinese red dates, soaked
100 g pine nuts
1 large bunch spring onions, chopped
1. Debone the duck. First, break off the thigh and wing joints so they can be removed easily. Next, use a sharp knife to cut around the rib cage, working your way right around the carcass. Reserve the carcass for soup.
2. Place the boned duck in a large mixing bowl and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, salt and pepper. Work the marinade inside the bird as well. Let the duck sit while you prepare the stuffing.
3. Heat up some oil in a large wok or frying pan and throw in the chopped spring onions to flavor the oil. When the onions are sizzling, add the diced Yunnan ham and Chinese sausages.
4. Add the lotus seeds, sliced mushrooms and fry till lightly fragrant. Add the chestnuts, pine nuts, red dates next.
5. Finally, tip in the rice and toss thoroughly to coat. Season with more salt and pepper. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.
6. Place the duck on a large roasting tin and carefully spoon the cooled stuffing into the duck. Pat the duck back into shape and use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to seal the neck opening and the bottom cavity.
7. Arrange the duck breast-side up on the rack and roast in a 200 C oven for 40 minutes until skin is crisp and golden.
8. Remove the bamboo skewers and plate the duck. Cut into portions and serve with the stuffing.
If you find it too daunting to even attempt to debone the duck, don't give up on the recipe. Crack the wing and thigh joints and then, hit the duck really hard to break most of the bones. This will help the duck cook a lot faster. I find a large rolling pin does the trick well. And if you are cooking the duck with bones intact, remember to give it an extra 10 minutes in the oven and rest it before you start carving. If you are serving the duck with bones, remove most of the stuffing so you can carve the meat easier.
I know many Chinese kitchens do not have Western ovens, but this dish can also be cooked the traditional way. Once you have the duck prepared, steam it over a high fire for about the same time - 40 minutes. After that, you need to heat up half a wok of oil till gently smoking. Lower the whole bird carefully into the pot and ladle hot oil over until the skin turns crisp and brown. Remember to turn up the heat just before you remove the duck so the hot oil drips off easily and there is less grease on the bird.