Thursday, 3 November 2011

At Home: Crispy Duck Pancakes

Nothing for me has that 'mmm' factor - Flake advert porn style - quite like a mouthful of salty crispy fat. Check out Tom Parker Bowles raving about the 'pure, salt and fat soaked pleasure' of the pork scratching in the latest issue of Fire and Knives, a taste - albeit an acquired one - I have a particular weakness for.

Duck legs have no shortage of fat, which crisps up a treat in a hot oven. This recipe is truthfully no fuss, and it's easy on the wallet too. Many methods for creating homemade versions of the takeaway classic require marinating, steaming, and deep-frying the duck. Don't bother. You will get a perfectly crispy skin by seasoning and roasting the legs, in a fraction of the time.

The roasted duck recipe below is based on James Ramsden's Five Spice Duck Legs recipe. I just added some Sichuan pepper and fresh ginger, and cooked the legs in a roasting dish instead of a frying pan, since I'm not lucky enough to have an oven-friendly pan.

NB. Seek out this brand of five-spice in your local Chinese supermarket. It beats supermarket spice rack versions hands down.

  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, bruised in a pestle and mortar
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, bashed flat and peeled
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 4 flour tortillas/8 Chinese pancakes
  • Shredded Cos lettuce
  • half a cucumber, cut into thick strips
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/Gas mark 4. Rub the skin side of the duck legs with a generous pinch of salt, the five spice, and the Sichuan pepper. Heat a little oil in a roasting dish over a medium heat on the hob and add the legs, skin side down. Fry for 10 minutes until browned and crisp.

Remove the legs and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Prod around the pan until coated in the duck fat, season with salt and pepper and lay the legs on top. Pop in the oven for an hour and a half, until soft and yielding to the advances of a fork.Remove from oven and rest, while you warm through the pancakes in a steamer, dry frying pan, or microwave. Remove the fat from the meat, then tear the meat off the bone with your fingers. Place shreds of meat, pieces of that wonderful crispy skin, the caramelized onions from the roasting pan, the lettuce, cucumber and a drizzle of hoisin down the centre of each pancake, wrap, and guzzle.


  1. Quick and easy. Thank you! Have been trying to settle on a beginners crispy duck after getting obsessed with Heston's Search for Perfection recently. This is a definite goer...


  2. It's just as crispy and moist as the Chinese takeaway version, and even more satisfying because a) you've made it yourself and b) it's cheap!
    No need for it to be complicated. I feel the same about belly pork: A short sharp blast of heat then long slow roast is a simple way to make it perfectly unctuous.