Once, only the emperors in China ate Peking duck, also called Beijing Duck. But now this dish is available in most of the Chinese restaurants.
While in Beijing, I was told to relish this dish at Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant. It was a bit difficult to locate the restaurant as it is hidden deep in the Hutong area. However, almost 500 metres from the restaurant the direction is indicated by pictures of ducks drawn on the walls directing potential customer to the ramshackle restaurant which needs lots of repair work.
The restaurant was once a courtyard house now turned restaurant. As soon as I walked into the poorly lit restaurant, I saw a huge wood-burning oven fired by fruit wood trees with the ducks hanging inside.
There were also pictures of visiting dignitaries adorning the wall. As I walked deeper into the restaurant I was greeted by the skylight and a cluttered dining room.
The menu was extensive. The Beijing Duck was a highly recommended dish. After settling down, I ordered a few other dishes besides the mouth watering duck dish. I understood from the lady owner, Zhang Xin that it is a lengthy process to prepare the ducks.
The ducks will have to be inflated to separate the skin from the body and the skin is pricked and showered in boiling hot water and then hung to dry and then glazed with liquid malt to give a nice amber finish to the skin.
The duck is then roasted till the skin is crispy and the meat juicy. It is served with Hoi Sin sauce, a kind of fermented bean paste, Chinese pancakes, spring onions and cucumber slices.
According to Zhang Xin, the following is the correct method of eating Liqun Roast Duck:
1. Dip a piece of the sliced roast duck into the Hoi Sin sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly on the entire pancake.
3. Place two more slices of duck on the pancake
4. Top with few slices of spring onions
5. Fold the pancake in the middle closing one end leaving the other end and leaving the other end open and serve!
You may want to know what happens to the cucumber batons. They should be eaten after the pancake is eaten – more like palate cleanser.
The duck skin melted in the mouth and had a smoky flavour. The bean sauce sort of helped accentuate the total flavor perfectly. The spring onion complemented the rich, fatty taste of the duck skin.
The roasted Beijing duck is usually carved at the table or shown to the customer and then taken to the kitchen to be carved. The bones, flesh, heart, liver and even the tongue are cooked.
The boiled duck liver is served with pepper salt, the duck hearts are baked, the duck bones are fried till crispy and served with salt and pepper. In other words, the whole duck is used.
Eating at Li Qun was an experience. So far, the Beijing Duck there seemed to be the best for me. However, I was given names of other restaurants to try the next time I am in Beijing.
Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant
Phone: +86 10 6705 5578