Tea Smoked Duck is one of the most famous dishes of Sichuan Province, contrary to what most people believe it to originate from Hunan. Smoking was a culinary craft mastered by the Sichuan people as a better way to preserve flavor and the longevity of foods without refrigeration. A good tea smoked duck should have a haunting tea smoked flavor, well rendered, tender meat and a crackling skin. It can be served with buns and accompanied by a semisweet bean sauce.
- 1 whole cleaned duck (preferably Peking where the breasts are larger)
- 1 large piece ginger root, crushed
- 1 bunch spring onions
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- 1 (6-inch) piece cassia cinnamon, preferably Chinese
- 1 Sichuan red peppercorns
- 1/2 cup maltose sugar or honey
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup fine Chinese black tea (Darjeeling, Ceylon are fine substitutes)
- 1 tablespoon saltpeter (optional but in original recipes)
- Water, enough to just cover duck in bath
- Sesame /vegetable oil, for basting
- 1 pound of camphor wood (chips are fine) Other types of wood such almond can be used)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 bag dried tea twigs, optional
Hang dry and rest for at least 2 hours. Hang duck in smoking oven with hook on the upper neck.
Place the camphor wood, brown sugar, tea twigs, if available, on a pan at the base of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Some recipes call for tea leaves but tea leaves in the sugar/camphor mixture does not add that much tea flavor to the ducks. Roast the duck for approximately 40 minutes, but depends on size of duck, type of oven, etc. For best results for a crispy skin, the last 5 to 10 minutes should be at 400 degrees F, with a final basting of sesame/vegetable oil on the skin of the duck. Duck can be flashed in hot oil to finish, if timing for service is critical.
Cut and serve hot, with buns and sauce, optional.
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