This is the cheats way to a Peking duck dish. I didn’t make the roast duck – I bought it. I really don’t have the time to make the roast duck and when these are so readily available, how could I not buy them instead? The time saved could be used to make another batch of macarons or, watch a movie with J! Equally pleasurable. The pancakes are a totally different story. These should be homemade. The aroma of the pancakes cooking will draw everyone to the kitchen and they will wait at their seats patiently, for you to say, ‘Dinner time!’ or in Chinese ‘Sik Fan la!’
This recipe will make about 30 smallish pancakes. Here’s how:
340g plain flour
240ml boiling water
1 tbsp sugar
Combine plain flour and sugar in a bowl. Add hot water gradually to the flour, stirring with a fork as you go.
Keep pouring and mixing with a fork until the mixture starts to get sticky.
Bring the mixture together with your hands. Knead the dough on the countertop until the dough is not sticky anymore, and feels elastic.
Add more flour/water as required (you shouldn’t need to!) It should end up quite smooth and elastic and non-sticky.
Cover with a wet tea towel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut your dough in half. Roll out the first half on a floured surface to about 3-4mm thick and cut with large round cookie/ pastry cutters. Gather the off-cuts together, re-roll, and re-cut until all the dough has been cut, including the other half.
Lay out all the dough circles on a baking sheet, and brush the tops of every other circle with sesame oil.
Sandwich each pair together, with the sesame oil inside.
Roll out each pair as thin as you can – don’t worry about it sticking, it just won’t because of the oil which makes it elastic and very flexible.
Heat a pan on medium heat, pick up the rolled out pancake, and lay it into the dry pan. You should be able to place two pancakes in the pan at the same time,
It will start to bubble within 30 seconds. Not like a eggy pancake, but you will see the pancake rise in places.
Turn it over and cook the other side. Once you see nice brown spots on it, they are done! It will take about 45 seconds for each side.
Lift out, and place on a plate and let it rest for about a minute before carefully peeling the two paired pancakes by running your finger between them to break the seal, let the steam escape, and then carefully peel the top pancake from the bottom pancake.
How the inside looks like of a paired pancake
They look quite inviting with the irregular shapes.
A quick tip: get yourself into a bit of a pattern while making them:
1) roll out 2 pancakes pairs
2) place in hot pan to cook
3) roll out 2 more pancakes pairs
4) flip first 2 pancakes pairs, wait 30 seconds for it to cook
5) remove from pan and set aside
6) place second lot of pancake pairs in hot pan to cook
7) roll out third lot of pancake pairs
8) flip second pancake pairs (and now you are at the point where you starting repeating these actions)
9) tease apart the first lot of cooked pancake pairs which had been set aside in step 5).
10) remove second pancake pairs from pan (8) and set aside
11) place third lot of pancake pairs in hot pan…
So essentially you move between your board, the pan and the plate with the cooked pancakes.
Once you get into a pattern, it will take no time to finish them all, and they will look identical in colour.
The duck and condiments
The hero of this dish is the duck, so don’t carve into it too early or risk draining the wonderful juices that are inside.
I have to admit I don’t like to eat the visible fat that lines the duck skin, so when slicing I would try to remove as much of them as possible.
I removed the legs and wings first, so that I have a wider surface to carve the skin and meat from (traditionally only the skin is eaten! The meat is reserved to make a secondary dish, like Sang Choy Bow, but I like the meat in these pancakes so I would carve the meat out along with the skin).
Chop cucumber and spring onions into similar sized lengths, usually the length of your finger, and put some Hoisin sauce in a small dish for serving.
To assemble, you pick up a piece of the pancake. Spread a little spoonful of hoisin sauce on it and place a piece of duck on. Top with some cucumber and spring onion slices, and roll it up tight. The gorgeous smell of the flour pancake mixed with the duck is purely addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, so make you make enough for everyone.
Give it a try, this is a fun dish!