An evening of delightful delicacies and stories

AUTHENTIC CUISINE The Beijing style roasted duck

AUTHENTIC CUISINE The Beijing style roasted duck   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

While the prawn and pork at Hyatt Regency’s China Kitchen were excellent, it was the roasted Peking duck which scored the highest

China is in the news, and I have been having close encounters with one of its best known exports — the Peking Duck. A couple of weeks ago, I went too Shang Palace at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel and had a crepe filled with juicy pieces of roasted Peking Duck.

The China speciality greeted me again earlier this week when I was invited by our dear relatives to China Kitchen at Hyatt Regency. The Chinese chef came with a browned and roasted duck — called Beijing style roasted duck. He deftly skinned and then chopped it into slices. A rolled out rice pancake was filled with the slices and then topped with thin slivers of cucumber and spring onion. Some hoisin sauce was added to this, the pancake was rolled up and served to us.

It was, as expected, delicious. The duck had been cooked just right, was nicely moist and succulent. The duck skin, eaten dipped in some powdered sugar, was, however, not as crispy as I thought it should be.

I remember the times when chefs used to complain that ducks in India were just not fatty enough. But there are duck farms now which give you plump birds. I was told the ducks that are used in China Kitchen get a special feed in the farm. They get to eat the same food that their brethren back home in China get, the restaurant manager said.

What I liked about the prawn shao mai — dimsums filled with prawns and flavoured with Miso mayonnaise — was the added texture and flavour of a few beads of orange caviar that topped the dumplings. The caviar kept popping in the mouth, giving a nice aftertaste to the dish.

Prawn shao mai

Prawn shao mai   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

I enjoyed the Sichuan Gong bao prawns. The prawns, large and juicy, had been cooked with dried chillies, onion, peanut and sesame vinegar sauce. The sauce was piquant and added its flavour to the soft-yet-crunchy prawns.

As you know, I love my pork and was eagerly waiting for some to reach our table. We had asked for Hunan spicy sliced pork cooked with Chinese celery garlic, ginger and leek. I enjoyed it, for the pork was tender, and the flavourings were strong.

I ate the pork with spicy chicken fried rice, and thought it was a nice end to a meal that wasn’t just about food, but made memorable because of a raconteur among us who regaled us with some delightful stories about his ancestral village in Bangladesh.

To go back to the duck, one of my culinary ambitions is to one day cook it at home. But it is a laborious process. The duck has to be washed and air-blown so that the skin loosens up (that’s how it becomes crisp when put in the oven). There are different marinades for this, but Shang Palace uses brine water, vinegar, sugar, green onions and garlic. Some like to use honey. The poor duck is kept hanging for 12 hours or so to make sure that it dries up, and then glazed with maltose, which gives it a light brown hue, and adds to the flavour. Then, of course, it is roasted in an oven. And you have to make sure that you don’t overcook it.

One day, perhaps.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 6:03:46 AM |

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