Living in China taught me so much about Chinese food. The sugar laden versions of what we eat in the west isn’t at all what I experienced there… so that means we don’t eat Chinese very often now that we are in Amsterdam. China is such a diverse country but if there is one thing that unites them, it has to be food. Asking someone what they ate that day is the same as asking them how they are.  So you can imagine I was pretty excited to get to try all sorts of new and exciting things. There were some misses of course but overall it was the best food journey I have had yet!  My mouth is watering thinking about all the amazing meals we had there.

Before moving to Asia, we had one firm rule while traveling – no eating from places that had pictures on the menu.  This rule has served us well (mostly to avoid tourist traps!) but when we moved to Shanghai and couldn’t read or speak the language, pictures on menus became much more appealing.  One of our first meals after we arrived in Shanghai was at a restaurant in a shopping mall near our hotel.  Thankfully it had pictures and we ordered what we could most easily recognise.  One of those items was duck with pancakes.  I still remember when it came to the table – a huge pile of duck all cut up – still  on the bone.  It wasn’t exactly how I had imagined it, but it was delicious!  I still remember those flavours 5 years later… So to celebrate the year of the rooster, I am making my own version of those yummy pancakes and sharing the recipe with you!

Chinese Duck Pancakes

Serves 6

For the Duck:

  • 2 duck breasts** or if readily available, a whole duck
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • olive oil
  • hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 of a cucumber, julienned – sliced into thin batons
  • 3 green onions, julienned
  • Pickled Radishes

** if you prefer you can do this with boneless chicken thighs – equally delicious! **

For the pancakes

  • 2 cups flour plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cold water
  • seseme oil
  • a pair of chop sticks

Start by preheating the oven to 150C. Place the duck on a rack inside a roasting dish, rub with oil and dust all over with the 5 spice.  Cook the breasts for 1.5 hours or a whole bird for 3, making sure to check on it periodically and removing some of the fat drippings as it cooks. You can also bast the meat with some of the drippings to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Turn the heat up to 200C for the last 10 minutes to crisp up that skin.  When done, remove the bird and put it aside to rest.  Once cooled, tear the meat into pieces with your fingers or some forks.

While your meat cools, make your pancake dough.  Place your flour in a bowl and mix in the hot water and then cold water, stirring with your chopsticks until a dough forms.  Dust a clean surface, turn out your dough and knead until it forms a smooth ball – about 5 minutes. Let is rest under a clean damp towel for 20-30 minutes.  Once rested, roll your dough into a log and then cut the log into 10-12 pieces.  Sprinkle your board with more flour, taking 2 pieces at a time (while the others rest under that damp towel), pat them down into a free form pancake.  Brush the top of one with oil, and place other pancake on top. Roll them out to form a 6inch pancake.  Don’t worry if its not perfectly round – that’s how you know its homemade 😉

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet and add a drop of oil to coat.  Peel your pancakes apart (it’s easier than you’d think!). Cook your pancake on one side until its brown and bubbling (about 1 minute) and then flip.  The second side will cook faster so make sure to keep an eye out! Keep your cooked pancakes under a damp cloth until serving. You can make these in advance and then steam them to reheat before serving.

*Sorry no photos of the pancakes. I was also trying to feed my boys their dinner at the same time – but followed this recipe – Mandarin Pancakes

To serve, take a pancake, add a good helping of the duck and garnish with fresh cucumber,spring onion and for a bit of a kick the spicy pickles.  Finish with a drizzle of hoisin sauce.  If your hoisin is too thick, thin it out with a little water.

This recipe left us with plenty of leftovers…and was just as delicious out of the fridge cold for breakfast.