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A Chinese classic: crispy duck breasts with pancakes

Duck with pancakes is one of the most well-known Chinese foods in the UK. Succulent, shredded roasted duck (with crispy skin!) drizzled with sweet, sticky hoi sin sauce and adorned with strips of cucumber and spring onion, all tucked up in a wafer-thin wrap – what's not to like?!?!?

That said, lots of people wouldn't dream of making this sort of thing from their own home and most wouldn't even know where to even start.

So, as we like to do at School of Wok, we will attempt to demystify a seemingly difficult dish and show you lucky people that it's almost as easy to make yourselves as ringing up the local takeaway.

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To make this dish even more 'home-friendly', the recipe calls for duck breasts, much easier to come by (and less expensive) than a whole duck – plus there'll be a lot less waste at the end!

If you're unsure what brands of hoi sin sauce or ready-made pancakes to buy, our advice is to just try some out and pick your favourites. But if you must the school we also keep loads of Lee Kum Kee hoi sin and Ming Foods pancakes in stock so we never run out!

[NOTE: For best results the duck must be cooked in two different ways. This 'double cooking' process will help to: 1) soften the meat; and 2) get rid of the many impurities and excess fat that duck seems to hold in its skin]

If this has sparked your desire to learn a whole repertoire of exciting dishes that you would never normally try at home, check out our range of Chinese cookery courses and other Asian cooking lessons, taught at our flagship London cookery school in Covent Garden.

2 duck breasts
1 tsp five-spice
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp hot water
3 spring onions
½ cucumber
1 pack duck pancakes

For the duck, gently score diagonally across the top of the skin (making sure not to cut the meat) then place both breasts in a saucepan and cover with boiling water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for three minutes (removing any scum from the top of the water) then remove from the pan and allow to cool.

Dry with kitchen towel then massage in the salt and five-spice over the skin of each breast. Allow to air dry for at least an hour ("the drier the skin the better", our chefs says!).

Pre-heat your oven to 200oC. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat then fry the duck skin-side down for around 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Press down on the sides to ensure all parts of the skin go crispy.

Place the duck (in the frying pan) into the oven for around five-six minutes and baste with a mixture of honey, rice vinegar and hot water. Remove the meat from the oven then allow to rest for around six minutes as you steam your pancakes.

Serve the duck (shredded with a fork) with finely sliced spring onions, matchsticks of cucumber and hoi sin sauce on a large plate or board, ready to wrap in any way you see fit. Enjoy!

If you love duck pancakes, you have to give these a go – it's well worth the small amount of effort for a truly authentic home-cooked Chinese meal. And if you do make these, please send us some pictures to our Facebook page – we'd love to see the results!

Make sure to check back again for more tasty recipes for Oriental classics and traditional dishes from across Asia.

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