Five Spice Roast Duck

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6

This version of roast duck is from China’s Guangdong Province. Through an elaborate but uncomplicated three-step process, the bird is marinated, then blanched, basted and refrigerated and finally roasted. The sequence results in a flavorful bird with crisp skin and succulent flesh. 


  • 1 Long Island duck, 3 1/2 to 4 lb., neck and giblets removed from cavity and reserved for another use 

  • 5 green onions, halved lengthwise and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 4 slices fresh ginger, each about 1/4 inch thick, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. five-spice powder
  • 1/4 cup black vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Canola oil for brushing

  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs. hot water
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil


Remove any pockets of fat from the neck cavity of the duck. Cut off the wing tips. Place the green onions, ginger and garlic in the cavity. In a bowl, combine the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and five-spice powder and mix well. Transfer to a large sealable plastic bag. Place the duck in the bag and rub the marinade all over the skin and inside the cavity. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight, turning the bag once.

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Remove the duck from the marinade. Shake off the excess marinade and remove the aromatics from the cavity. Discard the marinade and aromatics. Put a large colander in the sink and place the duck, breast side down, in the colander. Pour half of the boiling water evenly over the duck. Turn the duck breast side up and pour the remaining boiling water over the top. Drain the duck thoroughly, then pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a pan just large enough to hold it.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, honey and the 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the honey. Remove from the heat. Brush the duck skin all over with the honey-vinegar mixture. Refrigerate the duck, uncovered, for 24 hours to dry out the skin.

About 30 minutes before roasting, remove the duck from the refrigerator. Preheat an oven to 450°F. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place a V-shaped rack in the prepared pan and brush the rack with oil.

Place the duck, breast side down, in the rack. Roast until the skin is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the duck breast side up and continue roasting until the skin is crisp and mahogany brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F, 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer the duck to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the hoisin sauce, the 2 Tbs. hot water and the sesame oil. Carve the duck into 12 serving pieces: 2 wings, 4 breast pieces (each breast half cut in half), 2 drumsticks and 4 thigh pieces (each thigh cut in half). Arrange on a warmed platter. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking, by Farina Wong Kingsley & Thy Tran (Oxmoor House, 2009).

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