Artist’s Palate: Cai Guo-Qiang’s Beijing duck
In the June issue of Wallpaper* contemporary multi-media artist Cai Guo-Qiang, chooses to roll out traditional wood-oven roasted duck. His choice could not be more approriate. This mass-consumed dish comes from the city where he staged one of the most viewed artworks in history, when over a billion people watched his firework display at the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Preparation time: 24 hours, 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
1 2-3kg duck
8 cups water
1 slice ginger
1 scallion, cut into halves
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sherry
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
pancakes (see below)
Clean duck. Wipe dry and tie string around neck. Hang duck in cool, windy place for 12 hours. Fill large wok with water. Bring to boil. Add ginger, scallion, honey, vinegar, and sherry. Bring to boil. Pour in dissolved cornstarch. Stir constantly. Place duck in large strainer above larger bowl. Scoop boiling mixture all over duck for about 10 minutes. Hang duck again in cool, windy place for 12 hours until thoroughly dry.
Place duck breast side up on a greased rack in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Set a pan filled with 2 inches of water in bottom of oven. (This is for drippings). Roast 30 minutes.Turn duck and roast 30 minutes more. Turn breast side up again. Roast 10 minutes more.
Use sharp knife to cut off crispy skin. Serve meat and skin immediately on a pre-warmed dish. The duck is eaten hot with, cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce rolled in pancakes. Serves 4 – 6.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes 16 pancakes
225g plain flour
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil, for greasing
Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in 175ml boiling water. Stir to form a dough, adding a splash of cold water if the mixture feels dry. Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth.
Roll the dough into a sausage, about 40cm long. Cut into 16 equal pieces, about 25g each. Roll each piece into a small ball. Take 2 balls, flatten slightly, dip one side of one ball in sesame oil and place the oiled side on top of the other ball. Roll out to form a thin ’double’ pancake, about 20cm in diameter. Repeat with the remaining balls to form 8 pairs of pancakes.
Heat a non-stick frying pan until hot. Fry the pancakes for about 1 minute on each side until lightly coloured, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the pancakes apart to separate the layers. Keep them covered with a clean, damp tea towel to prevent drying.