1duck (about 2.2kg)100 mllight soy sauce80 ml(1/3 cup) Shaoxing wine2 tbspsweet flour sauce (see note)2green onions, finely chopped, plus extra thinly sliced to serve1 tbspfinely shredded ginger5 tspground Sichuan peppercorns1 tspeach ground star anise and cinnamon½ tspground clovesFor deep-frying:vegetable oilTo serve:mantou (see note)Sichuan pepper-salt dip1 tbspSichuan peppercorns 55 gm(1/3 cup) sea salt
Rinse duck in cold water and pat dry with absorbent paper. Remove fat glands from the body cavity and discard. Combine soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sweet flour sauce, green onion, ginger and spices in a large bowl, season to taste with salt and mix well. Add duck and rub inside out with Shaoxing mixture, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Place duck on a heatproof dish in a large bamboo steamer over a wok of boiling water. Steam, covered, over high heat until tender (2 hours), replenishing boiling water if necessary. Remove duck, cool and drain well. Pat dry with absorbent paper, then halve lengthways.
Meanwhile, for Sichuan pepper-salt dip, dry-roast peppercorns in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to pop (30 seconds), then transfer to a bowl. Add salt to pan and stir continuously until starting to turn golden (1-1½ minutes). Add to peppercorns. Cool, finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Heat 15cm oil, or enough to cover duck, in a wok to 180C. Carefully lower a duck half into oil and deep-fry, turning halfway through cooking, until golden and cooked through (10-12 minutes). Repeat with remaining duck. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve with pepper-salt dip and mantou.
Note Sweet flour sauce (tian mian jiang), also known as sweet bean paste/sauce, is available from Asian grocers. If unavailable substitute with hoisin sauce. Mantou are bread buns that are steamed or baked and are available from Asian grocers (alternatively, you can make them at home with our Mantou recipe).
I found this recipe in Chinese Home-style Cooking, published by China’s Foreign Language Press. The duck is marinated, then steamed until tender before being deep-fried to a rich mahogany colour. It looks involved but is actually a cinch when you break the recipe into two days – one for marinating, the next for finishing the dish. Serve with Sichuan pepper-salt dip and you’ll be making this again and again. — Tony Tan