I sat at the table, waiting curiously. When the gold-coloured duck came finally, I was mouth-watering. I watched the chef slicing first the skin, then meat to small pieces, which were piled up neatly on a plate and brought to our table. Together came the steamed thin pancakes, strips of the Chinese green union, and a saucer of sweet soya paste. I was so hungry and could not help to grab a thin pancake, took one piece of skin and one piece of meat with chopsticks and laid them on the pancake, added some union strips with soya paste, then wrapped it by hands and bit a big mouth immediately. The salty sweetness from the paste, the mild pungency of the green unions, and the tantalizing fragrance of the roast duck mingled in my mouth. I sighed with satisfaction. From that moment I fell in love with the Beijing Roast Duck. For a very long time, the fragrance of the fatty crispy duck skin and the creamy soup cooked with duck bones stayed in my memory.
China has a long history of eating duck and many different ways of cooking it, for example, boiled salted duck, braised duck in brow sauce, deep-fried duck, smoked duck, etc. Among them the Beijing roast duck is my most favorite one. The roast duck was originated in Southern China. About 700 years ago when the third emperor of Ming Dynasty moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, the dish came along as well. What distinguishes the Beijing Roast duck from the traditional roast duck are two things:
Firstly, it uses a special breed - the White Beijing Duck which is plump and perfect for roasting. Secondly, ducks are hanged in an open oven where you can see they are roasted with the trunks of fruit trees.
The success of a roast duck depends partly on the preparation and partly on the chef’s skill of slice. A skillful chef should be able to slice a whole duck to at least 90 pieces at a similar size. The most delicious part is the skin, which also the most important measure to judge the cooking skill of a chef. It must be crispy and moisture, so is melted in mouth.
Since then I’ve had many different types of ducks, but the Beijing Roast Duck remains one of my most favorite dishes.