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December 29, 2011

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Easy orange-glazed duck perfect for the holidays

AS my mother returned to Shanghai from a long hiatus, we sat at one of her favorite local spots for lunch, Chu Chu Yuan. We had been talking of the newly formed food blog and wondering which fun new recipes to give to the followers.

"What's new to make?" was the question on my mind. As I looked across the table, my mother and I both came to same idea simultaneously: ORANGE-GLAZED DUCK! Duck is available everywhere in Shanghai and very easy to prepare, not to mention how tasty it is.

This crispy orange-glazed duck has a long and enduring history in our family. My mother served it in her restaurant in Portland, Oregon, 15 years ago. The recipe was so popular that when it went off the menu, three lawyers, my mother's devoted customers, threatened to protest in front of the restaurant if she didn't bring it back.

Orange-glazed duck & mixed rice with chestnut, cranberries and walnuts

Ingredients: 1 duck; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; canola oil

? Sichuan peppercorn salt: 3 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns; 3 tablespoons kosher salt

? Orange Glaze: 8 tbsp sugar; juice of 2 oranges; zest of 1 orange; cinnamon stick, 2.5cm; 2 cloves; 1 tbsp butter; a pinch of cayenne pepper; a pinch of kosher salt

? Mixed Rice: 1/2 cup organic black rice; 1/2 cup of white rice; 1 tbsp butter; 3 tbsp dried cranberries; 3 tbsp walnuts, chopped; 10 chestnuts, chopped; 1 cup of water; Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper


? Prepare the duck one night before. First of all, toast the Sichuan peppercorns and kosher salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, to bring out the aroma and release the peppercorn's oil into the salt. Move the saucepan continuously and toss until the salt picks up some color from the peppercorns. This takes about three minutes. Marinade the duck with the aromatic salt overnight. Use about 1 1/2 tbsp. Keep the rest in a small jar.

? On the day of cooking, remove the peppercorns from the duck. In a deep pot, steam the duck at high heat for one hour. Remove and cool to room temperature.

? While the duck steams, prepare and cook the rice. Remove the chestnut skins with a pairing knife, and then finely chop them to small and uniform-sized pieces. Wash the rice in a colander and let it drain for about 15 minutes. Combine the rice, dried cranberries, chopped chestnuts and walnuts, and add a pinch of kosher salt and butter.

? If you have a rice cooker, add water according to instructions and cook. But if you don't have a rice cooker, add rice to a medium pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and immediately turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the rice rest for 10 minutes. Do not remove the cover, as the rice needs the steam to finish cooking at this point.

? Dust the entire duck with flour and shake off excess flour. Heat the canola oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat until it reaches about 176 degrees Celsius. Fry the entire duck for about seven minutes until golden brown. The duck is already cooked, so the frying helps achieve a golden brown color and adds extra flavor. Remove the duck and drain on a paper towel-lined rack.

? While the duck rests, make the orange glaze. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and juice of two oranges on medium-high heat until the mixture boils. Immediately turn the heat down to low. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cayenne pepper and orange zest. Reduce the liquid down to two-thirds - about five minutes of cooking. At this point, whisk in one tablespoon of butter. Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick and cloves.

? Carve the duck and serve with mixed rice and warm orange glaze.

Jesse & Stephanie


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