4 duck legs
4 teaspoons salt
6 star anise
1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper corns
1 teaspoon cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 spring onions
4 pieces of ginger
6 tablespoons of Shaoshing wine
500ml chicken stock
Half a cucumber cut into match sized strips
Half a spring oinion, white parts only cut into fine matchstick sizes
• Run a knife around the bottom of each duck leg to allow for shrinkage during cooking.
• Dust lightly with salt and spices and then lie flat in tray. Repeat the process for all the remaining duck legs. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
• Dust off the excess salt but keep the spices.
• Place all the ingredients in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
• Transfer to a steamer and steam for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falls off the bone.
• Leave to cool in the cooking liquor.
• Remove the thigh bone from the duck legs by gently teasing them away with your hands.
• Remove the remaining legs from the cooking liquid and chill until needed. The liquor can be stored in the freezer until you next cook up a batch.
• When ready to serve, deep fry the legs in oil skin side down until crispy, turning once. Remove and drain.
• At the table, scrape the meat off the meat from the bone and serve with pancakes, julienned spring onion, cucumber and five spice salt.
• The secret here is not to boil the duck during the cooking process that will result in a dry crusty texture to the duck.
• Don’t bother making your own pancakes, there are some fantastic ones available from Chinese supermarkets. A good pancake should be elastic and soft once steamed, and should remain soft even after a few minutes and not go hard. To put it into perspective, we have a chef in the restaurant who has the sole job of making pancakes for us all day every day. It is extremely labour intensive and only results with a superior pancake to those made by machines if the chef is extremely skilled and experienced.
• Don’t bother making your own hoisin sauce, it is a three-hour process. The ready made jars do have the tendency to be overly sweet. I would therefore recommend buying these and adding some citrus notes to them by either stirring in lemon juice or grating in some preserved plums.
Recipe by Andrew Wong, Bib Gourmand awarded restaurant A.Wong (www.awong.co.uk)