The tale of a duck

Sichuan Crispy Duck

If you eat meat, then duck is a beautiful thing to enjoy. And I hope most of you will agree that the Chinese are true masters in cooking duck well. Flavorsome, crispy skins, moist meat & great looking, I can sing praise of a perfect cooked duck for days and days! I can never forget the first time I tasted Peking duck in Beijing. Even the less inspiring Chinese roast ducks available here in Australia are still quite enjoyable to eat.

However, eating is one thing, cooking a perfect duck is a real challenge. You see, our home kitchen can never compare to a professional kitchen in terms of equipment. So it is almost impossible to re-create the type of duck available in restaurants. But I do believe with some simple equipment, we all can adapt the recipes to cook up our favorite at home.

Sichuan Crispy Duck

The recipe I chose for my duck today is not Peking duck, but the Sichuan version. This is the recipe where you can clearly see the double cooking method, which is quite popular in Chinese cuisine. The duck is first steamed for three hours to get rid of the fatty and smelly fat. It is then left dry and deep-fried close to serving to ensure perfect crispy skin. In terms of technique, it is not as complicated as roasting. However, it does require patience and a bit of adventurous cooking spirit.

I am very pleased with the results. The duck is crispy outside and moist, meaty inside. I have served the duck with some store-bought Chinese pancake, cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce. You can prepare the pancake at home, too, but I find that dealing with the duck is far too much already. Thus, this product becomes handy and is quite good, too (I get it from David Jones Food Hall if you ask).

I think for a first timer, this result is quite satisfying. It is really a great pleasure to roll up the beautiful cooked duck in those paper thin pancakes, knowing that all the hard work is worthy in the end. Perhaps some day I will be brave enough to attempt the famous Chinese roast duck. Yeah, why not?

And for those duck lovers who want to cook up a storm at home, here is the recipe…

Sichuan Crispy Duck

Sichuan-style Crispy Duck

Adapted from Neil Perry´s recipe and other sources


  1. Large steaming basket, enough to hold the whole duck
  2. A large wok to deep fry (or use a deep-fryer)
  3. A fan, cake rack and baking sheet

Ingredients (for 2-3 duck lovers to share as main meal)

1 duck, weigh about 2 kg

1 tbsp fine sea salt

1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

1 large knob ginger, peeled, cut into 4 slices

4 spring onion

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Plain flour

Oil, for frying

To serve:

Mandarin pancakes (or store bought Peking duck wrap)

8 small spring onions, white part with a bit of green left on

1 cucumber, cut into 8 batons

6 tbsp hoisin sauce mixed with 2 tbs sesame oil

Sichuan Crispy Duck


  1. Rinse the duck, pat dry and remove the fat from the cavity. Place the duck on a board and push down hard to snap the side bones so the duck flattens slightly.
  2. Mix the sea salt with five-spice powder, Rub the salt mixture all over the duck, then the cavity. Cover and chill overnight in the fridge.
  3. Put the duck on a bamboo steamer. Place ginger and spring onion in the cavity (spread out so that the fragrance will be distributed evenly). Steamed the duck for three hours over boiling water to render the fat. Remember to top up your steamer with boiling water regularly.
  4. After three hours, drain the duck on a baking rack and cool, using a fan. Remove the onion and ginger. Make sure the skin is dry.
  5. Brush the duck with the soya sauce. Dust it with plain flour and bowling off any excess.
  6. In a large wok, heat enough oil to half submerge the duck to 180C. Place the duck in the wok, breast side down. Turn over after 3 mins, and cook for another 2 mins. (The duck should be cooked in a total of 12 mins, turning side to side). Remove and drain.
  7. To serve, cut off the legs and with a fork, loosen the fibres of the leg meat. Repeat this process for the rest of the duck. Shred the meat and place on a warm plate.
  8. Prepare the pancake according to package direction. TO eat, place the pancake on the plate, spoon over some sauce, place a piece of cucumber and onion with some duck and roll up. Enjoy!
Sichuan Crispy Duck

53 Responses to The tale of a duck

  1. Tartelette says:

    Wow! Just Wow!! For a first time, my hat’s off to you! This is fantastic. I could only imagine the flavors of those dishes.

  2. Mandy says:

    Anh, kudos to you! I would never dream of attempting a whole duck recipe by myself! I am in awe!

  3. Gattina says:

    I see nothing less than professional here! I feel an urge going to the pond tonight… *sly grin*

  4. Ali-K says:

    My comment is not very original, but only because it reflects what everyone above says: Congratulations. This looks sensational.

  5. Anh says:

    Helen, thank you. :)

  6. Precious Moments says:

    Anh! this dish reminded me of years ago when my aunt attempted this dish. It was this exact dish that changes my opinion on duck! quack quack….. thanks for the memory.

  7. Lydia says:

    Compliments to the chef! That is one beautiful duck. I can’t imagine I would ever have the courage to try this at home.

  8. Asha says:

    Perfectly crisped Duck, beautiful work!:))

  9. Kelly Mahoney says:

    Beautiful photos. I’ve never cooked a whole duck either, but there’s a first time for everything.

  10. Angie says:

    Even a restaurant’s duck doesn’t get better than this. Great job!

  11. Retno Prihadana says:

    Looks really awesome! Nice shoots, I love it!

  12. Mandira says:

    I’ve cooked whole chicken before, but never a duck. It looks gorgeous :) I hope you are sending an entry for JFI:Banana :)

  13. Callipygia says:

    Wow I bow down to you. I only enjoy duck at dim sum, way too intimidating to make at home. Yours looks beautifully mahongany glazed!

  14. Dwiana P says:

    Hi greeting from PA. this food remind me with my hometown. I used to buy cook duck and it tastes very yummy! I believe yours too. Also the fruit craving make the presentation even look better:)

  15. Deborah says:

    This looks beautiful! I’ve only had duck once before, but this makes me wish I could find it easier here!

  16. Belinda says:

    Wow, Anh! This looks like it came out of the kitchen of a 5 star restaurant! You did such an amazing job with this…I would be so intimidated to try cooking a whole duck. I even get a little intimidated when roasting a large chicken! :-)

  17. valentinA says:

    I’m really impressed Anh! Though I’m a Mauritian-Chinese, I’ve always been to lazy to cook duck (specially peking duck) & preferred to have it at the restaurant!

  18. Margot at Coffee & Vanilla says:

    Amazing dish and composition!!

  19. Sandeepa says:

    I had duck once at a friend’s place…but it smelled.

  20. Wendy says:

    I make crispy duck quite often but never like this! Can’t wait to try it out. :)

  21. Homesick Texan says:

    Duck is my favorite poultry, but I’ve always been a bit timid about cooking a whole one. Thanks for this excellent recipe and tutorial–I can’t wait to make duck at home!

  22. sher says:

    Oh yes! The Chinese do the best duck. And yours looks so magnificent–and delicious. Brava!

  23. katiez says:

    How brave you are! I love Chinese crispy duck!

  24. Anh says:

    Edith, thanks for sharing such memory with me. I am so happy that my humble dish can give you such nice moments!

  25. tigerfish says:

    Roasting that whole duck in my kitchen is just too overwhelming for me. I usually get my half of roasted duckie (Hong Kong style) from the asian deli here! I just bought them last week coincidentally. :)

  26. Nora B. says:

    Anh, that is an AMAZING effort. A labour of love I have to say. Although I have been tempted many times to make roast duck because my partner is crazy about it, I don’t think I have the courage and patience that you have. You are a very talented cook!

  27. Kevin says:

    I have never cooked a full duck before… That looks really tasty.

  28. veron says:

    Anh! My heart is palpatating so much right now – I just love crispified duck! I have not deep-fried an entire duck before – congratulations for doing such a great job!

  29. Anh says:

    tigerfish, I haven’t roasted a whole duck either. This is a deep-frying recipe.

  30. Sylvia says:

    Oh my God Anh!!!This duck looks fabulous.Congratulation, you do a great job.

  31. pdbv says:

    Hi Anh, thanks for stopping by today. I love your blog. I hope I can read through all the contents before long :)

  32. Oh for the love of food! says:

    Anh, your duck looks AMAZING! the presentation and photography is fabulous , worthy of the best food magazines out there!

  33. Cynthia says:

    I bow to you oh great Anh.

  34. Soraya says:

    Anh, looks delicious, i love duck and is very roasted.

  35. Amy says:

    Oh my goodness that duck looks absolutely mouthwatering! Duck is probably one of my favorite foods. I did a Peking style duck a few months ago and whew it was labor intensive.

  36. Truffle says:

    I can’t think of anything I would rather eat. I adore duck and just love what you’ve done with it Anh. Outstanding!

  37. Anh says:

    Sylvia, thanks honey.

  38. maybahay says:

    wow, i am literally drooling. i just adore crispy duck. your recipe and pictures are fabulous. well done and thanks for sharing.

  39. Kate says:

    This is stuff fit for an emperor ! Well done , an exquisite dish which is time consuming and requires perfection.I usually pay a bomb to eat this stuff outside.Love it !

  40. The Cooking Ninja says:

    wow! this duck is certainly a winner. I will definitely try it after I move into a new house with a deep fryer … if the duck can fit in.

  41. Maryann says:

    I love that last photo. I haven’t had duck in a long while but now I want some :)

  42. Andaliman says:

    huaaaa… I almost drool to see those ducks’ pictures

  43. Anh says:

    maybahay, thanks.

  44. Mishmash ! says:

    Anh, bird looks excellent, nice and brown and what i am looking at right is that cucumber carvung,,,you should teach me that…with a pictorial :)

  45. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    This looks really good! I am so impressed that you made this at home!

  46. winedeb says:

    We, my son chef and I, have been tossing around the idea of duck. The only duck we can get here is frozen. Is yours fresh or frozen???? Looks marvelous!!

  47. Sig says:

    WOW! It looks beautiful…… You are amazing Anh… it sounds like a complicated process, cooking for three hours… I guess I just need to wait for an invitation from you… I am too lazy to cook this at home :)

  48. Anh says:

    Shn, thanks dear… I will try my best with the pictorial. 😛 But I am really not very good at this.

  49. Riana says:

    Excellent pictures! Especially the last one. Love it!

  50. Hedgehog says:

    you should open a restaurant soon. Your cooking skills are just too good! By the way that looks really nice but it looks like it takes forever to cook.

  51. lynn says:

    This sounds like an amazing way to prepare duck. I’d definitely dine at Anh’s Restaurant if duck was on the menu!

  52. door spice rack says:

    I will try this for a special dinner with my family. I got all the spices I need in my spice rack. thanks

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