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Beijing roast duck

The Beijing roast duck is a dish well-known among gastronomes the world over.
China is one of the first countries to domesticate ducks for the table. Cooking
methods include steaming, boiling, stewing, roasting, frying and so on. Historical
records show that Beijing Roast Duck started some 300 years ago, and roasting
duck first began in Nanjing, then known as Jinling capital city of Jiangsu Province.
At that time, Jinling was the capital of the early Ming Dynasty. When the capital moved
to Beijing, the dish was also brought to Beijing as a delicacy on the imperial menu.
In about 1630, a eunuch wrote a book on the imperial diet and referred to roast
goose, pork, chicken and duck as the most favoured courses in the palace.
Nowadays, the two most famous Restaurants that serve Beijing Roast Duck are
Bianyifang Roast Duck Restaurant and Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, both of
which have a history of over one hundred years. They represent two different schools
of roasting duck. Bianyifang, founded in 1855, makes use of a close oven and straw
as the fuel, which won't make flames go directly onto the duck. Before being put into
the oven, a duck is filled with specially-made soup to make it possible to roast the
duck outside and boil it inside at the same time. Quanjude, a better known one,
founded in 1864, uses an oven without a door. After a kind of dressing being spread
all over a duck, it will be hooked up in the oven over the flame coming directly from
the burning of the fruit-tree wood and it will be done in forty minutes.
The ducks (ideally, the duck must be the white Beijing variety) are raised for the sole
purpose of making the food. Force-fed, they are kept in cages which restrain them
from moving about, so as to fatten them up and make the meat comparably tender.
And it should be 65 days old. Beijing Roast Duck is processed in several steps: first the ducks are rubbed with spices, salt and sugar, and then
kept hung in the air for some time. Then the ducks are roasted in an oven, or hung over the fire till they become brown with rich grease perspiring
outside and have a nice odor.
The duck is served in slices. First, the chef will show you the whole duck. Then, he will slice it into between 100 and 120 slices in four or five
minutes, each slice with an equal portion of both skin and meat. Usually the duck is served together with special pancakes, hollowed sesame
bun, green onions and sweet sauce. Dinners can wrap duck slices, onion, and sauce in a pancake or a sesame bun with their bare hands.
Sometimes people would like to put in mashed garlic and cucumber or carrot strips as well.
The simple eating procedure is as follows: Pick up a pancake in one hand and, using a section of raw scallion as a brush, paint a few splashes
of bean sauce on the pancake. Next, place the scallion in the center of the pancake, and with your chopsticks add a few pieces of duck, finally
rolling it up for convenience's sale. Here then is one of the most unforgettable mouthfuls in all of Chinese cooking.
A Beijing duck dinner is more than just a meal. It's a ritual. Beginning with the cold appetizers, using liver, wing, stomach, web and eggs, and
moving on through the four-part duck soup to the hot dishes-fried duck's heart in salt and pepper, tongue, kidneys --- the whole roast duck is
carried to the table for all to see before the meat is sliced and served.



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