Monday, August 04, 2014

Summer Culinary Lab Update

The annual Winston Saugatuck Summer Culinary Lab is in session. It is a time when I develop recipes while working on new cooking techniques with unique and seasonal ingredients. There are a number of new food developments, but after a short trip to Chicago where I dined at Chef Ivan Yuen's Shanghai Terrace restaurant (@ the new Peninsula Hotel) I am playing with Cantonese/Peking cooking. I visited the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong several years ago for a truly memorable experience with Peking Duck, and while I had Abalone on this occasion, it made me think about experimenting with a less intensive version of the classic (which can take 3+ days to produce). Here is what we've got so far:

Crispy Chinese Duck (Faux Peking-Style)

Quantity Produced:  Serves 4-6 as an entrée.

Ducks, Split and Quartered, Skin dried w/ towel                      2 Medium Ducks

Braising Sauce:
Vegetable Oil                                                                                    2 Tablespoons
Garlic Cloves, Crushed                                                       3
Scallions, Cut Large                                                             2
Ginger Root, Sliced                                                              2” Piece
Sichuan Peppercorns                                                          1 Teaspoon
Star Anise                                                                              3
Chicken Stock                                                                       ½ Cup
Soy Sauce                                                                              1 Cup
Brandy or Sake                                                                    ½ Cup
Sugar                                                                                      1 Tablespoon
Kosher Salt                                                                            2 Pinch

Water Chestnut Flour or Corn Starch                              1 Cup
Vinegar, White                                                                     2 Tablespoons
Water                                                                                     6 Tablespoons
White Pepper                                                                       ¾ Teaspoon

Hoisin or Plum Sauce                                                         1 ½ Cups
Scallions, Julienned                                                              2

Preparation Procedure: Preheat Oven 375˚. In a large braising ban heat small amount of oil and brown skin side of duck pieces, 4-7 minutes. When golden, transfer duck to plate. Drain some of fat off the pan, add the garlic, scallions, gingerroot, peppercorns and star anise and cook over high heat, stirring, until the garlic is golden and you can smell the spices, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the stock, soy sauce, sake or brandy, sugar and salt. Boil the sauce over high heat for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add duck to the sauce, cover and bake for 2 hours or until the duck is cooked. While the duck is cooking mix the ingredients for the crust. Remove duck from braising sauce (reserve for another use) and allow to cool. When duck is cool, coat skin side with crust, spreading with a spoon. Allow the crust to dry for 5-10 minutes or as long as overnight. Heat 3” of oil in a large wok or pot, to 350˚, fry duck until crispy and golden 4-5 minutes. Serve with plum/hoisin sauce, scallions and flatbread.