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Peking Duck

Peking Duck is a famous dish from northeastern China. The name comes from the obsolete anglicization of the name of the capital of China, Beijing.

Peking Duck requires a duck with its head still attached. First, it is inflated with a bicycle pump or other object, separating the skin from the carcass. Then the skin is scalded with boiling water to make drier and tauter and brushed with sugar-water so that it acquires a dark, rich color with the slight aroma of caramel during the subsequent cooking process. After drying for half a day, the duck is hung in a hot oven where it is roasted for an hour or more, during which time the copious fat of the duck melts off and the skin becomes crispy. Because a large oven is required, Peking Duck is not usually prepared at home; Peking Duck is customarily eaten in a restaurant or bought already prepared at shops or restaurants and taken home to eat.

A traditional way of serving Peking Duck is with steamed mu-shi pancakes, slivered spring onions (also known as scallions), hoisin sauce, and plum sauce. One places pieces of chopped duck meat on a pancake, adds a bit of hoisin sauce, plum sauce, and scallion. The mixture is rolled up and eaten with the fingers. Afterwards, a soup is made from the carcass and served as a subsequent course.

In China, a special breed of duck is grown exclusively for this dish. The ducks are kept in individual cages and force-fed so that they grow plump and without muscle.

See also: Mandarin cuisine