By Diane Forrest,
A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the "Chicken Surprise". The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.
Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.
"Good grief, did you see that?" she asks her husband.
He hasn't, so she asks him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down.
Rather perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and demands an explanation.
"Please sir," says the waiter, "what you order?"
The husband replies, "Chicken Surprise."
Ah... so sorry," says the waiter, "I bring you Peeking Duck"
Today is National Peking Duck day. Peking Duck has its roots in Yuan dynasty, who invented the dish in the 1200s. It became the Ming dynasty's favorite food in the 1500s. One of the oldest Peking Duck restaurants in Beijing has served Peking Duck for over 600 years. By the mid-20th century, Peking Duck had become China’s national dish. Its popularity has spread across the world with many upscale Chinese restaurants around the world serving Peking Duck as one of their signature dish. Peking duck had historically been reserved for the nobles and upper class members of the Chinese community. It’s only been since the beginning of the 21st century that the average person in China could afford to eat authentic Peking Duck.
The origins of National Peking Duck Day are unclear, but it would have started sometime after 1975, when Peking Duck was popularized in the United States according to Mahalo.com.
I have never had Peking duck, but it sounds delicious and today would be a great time to try it, although I have heard it tastes like chicken! If there isn't a place to get it where you live, try this recipe from allrecipes.com
- 1 (4 pound) whole duck, dressed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 orange, sliced in rounds
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- 5 green onions
- 1/2 cup plum jam
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chutney
- Rinse the duck inside and out, and pat dry. Cut off tail and discard. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and cloves. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the mixture into the cavity of the duck. Stir one tablespoon of the soy sauce into the remaining spice mixture and rub evenly over the entire outside of the bird. Cut one of the green onions in half and tuck inside the cavity. Cover and refrigerate the bird for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Place duck breast side up on a rack in a big enough wok or pot and steam for an hour adding a little more water, if necessary, as it evaporates. Lift duck with two large spoons, and drain juices and green onion.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place duck breast side up in a roasting pan and prick skin all over using a fork.
- Roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. While the duck is roasting, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and honey. After 30 minutes, brush the honey mixture onto the duck and return it to the oven. Turn the heat up to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Roast for 5 minutes, or until the skin is richly browned. Do not allow the skin to char.
- Prepare the duck sauce by mixing the plum jam with the sugar, vinegar and chutney in a small serving bowl. Chop remaining green onions and place them into a separate bowl. Place whole duck onto a serving platter and garnish with orange slices and fresh parsley. Use plum sauce and onions for dipping.