Peking duck pancakes

True Peking duck pancakes are, of course the first part of three that are served when you order Peking duck at an Australian restaurant. (In China, I understand, the skin is cut from the duck, and the meat removed from the bones and cut into small rectangles. These are then arranged on a serving platter, between the legs and the wings to create a symbolic whole duck. The bones are then made into duck soup. Pieces of meat as well as skin can be rolled into Chinese pancakes much as they are served here.)

We make Peking duck pancakes at home really only when we intend to make a red duck curry from the meat of a barbecued duck bought from Chinatown, because the skin is not required for red duck curry. Given what you pay in a restaurant for this as a starter, it’s such a waste not to do it for guests.

If I were intending to serve duck pancakes as finger food for a party, I would probably use tiny savoury pancakes instead of the true steamed Chinese ones, and might top the pancakes with duck meat, rather than duck skin, and slivers of fruit, or with plum sauce instead of the traditional hoisin sauce.

1 barbecued duck from Chinatown
1 packet Chinese pancakes from Chinese barbecue in Chinatown
1 bunch green onions
Hoisin sauce

Firstly, prepare the green onions. These can be simply be cut into strips, or they can be “frilled”. To do this, cut the white part of the green onion into approximately 4cm lengths, then with a sharp knife, cut 1.5cm deep slits all around both ends of the green onion, leaving about 1 cm of solid green onion in the centre. Place them in a bowl of iced water and leave them in the refrigerator for about an hour. The ends will curl and stiffen making balls of green-white ‘frills’.

We have recently discovered that re-heating the duck helps to separate the skin from the meat and also helps to re-crisp the skin. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees and wrap the duck in al-foil. Reheat in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a flexible knife, cut the skin away from the duck. Don’t pull it as it will tear. The skin should have some meat attached.

Heat the pancakes by folding them in half and placing the folded pancakes onto a plate and steaming them in a traditional Chinese bamboo steamer, or by placing them in a microwave steamer (with water) for about two minutes.

To serve, smear a pancake with hoisin sauce. Place a piece of duck skin onto the pancake, top   with a green onion strip or frill, roll up and serve.

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