Walking down Canal St. and the various side streets that make up New York’s Chinatown and your eyes will fall upon many a fish market, trinket shop and restaurant, many of which have rows of golden brown birds dangling from hooks behind the window, a butcher’s block and cleaver not far away. It is likely said birds are Peking ducks. The Peking duck is a Chinese specialty, a preparation which many restaurants in Chinatown replicate, but few have perfected the way Chef Wu of Peking Duck House has—he's been making them since we was 16. Chef Wu gave Eater the play-by-play as to how his famed Peking Ducks get made. Click on the slide show below to see how it's done.
- Step 1 - Acquire Duck: Get yourself a duck, preferably no longer quacking. Chef Wu gets his birds from a duck farm in Long Island (he was skittish as to revealing which one). According to Wu, the farm imported duck eggs from China. That means these ducks
- Step 2 - The Big Bloat: The key step to this style of preparation is pumping the bird with air to loosen the skin from the muscle, which ensures a crispier product. Traditionally, cooks would blow air into the neck cavity with their mouth, but Wu has stre
- Mr. Wu's plumped up bird.
- Step 3 - Cleaning the Bird: Wu chops off the feet, slices the belly and guts the bird before giving it a quick rinse in cold water.
- Step 4 - The Dunk: The bird then gets dunked in a pot filled with boiling water that has been infused with honey, salt and vinegar. Wu bastes the bird in the bubbling liquid for no more than 30 seconds.
- Step 5 - Left Out To Dry: The bird is then hung to dry. Typically the ducks are left out to dry overnight, but Wu has set fans in place to speed up the process and bring the resting time down to 3 hours.
- Step 6 - Roast the Duck: The duck is then hung inside an oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Hanging the bird in this fashion allows more fat to drip off (see boiling pool of liquid), producing a leaner, crispier bird.
- Chef Wu shows us a batch of birds that just came out of the oven.
- Step 8 - Carve the Duck: It is tradition for the chef to carve the bird table-side. Mr. Wu gets the job done in less than a minute.
- Accompaniments: Peking duck is eaten in thin pancakes with sliced cucumbers, scallions and hoisin sauce.
- Step 8 - Eat the Duck: Our one eating suggestion is to eat if fast. Trust us, it will go very quickly.