Peking Duck For The Holidays

| November 17, 2012

peking duckA visit to Chinatown this week alerted me to the fact that it might be smart to actually try a Peking Duck this year for the holidays, either as a replacement, or to accompany the turkey. The inspiration was a delectable sample recently experienced at the Mandarin Chateau restaurant, alongside six or seven other tasting courses to get my appetite up and running.

For years, come November, locals have been driving into Chinatown from all over the area in search of BBQ-Roasted Turkeys, and now the Peking Duck is gaining in popularity not only with the Chinese, but also with everyone else. Noted for its thick and crispy skin and its very flavorful dark meat, the iconic Peking Duck is seasoned before being slowly roasted, and the result is extremely succulent meat that demands rave reviews.

If you like your duck with an herbal or smoky flavor, you might want to consider a tea-smoked duck, a dish well known in Szechwan cuisine and one that involves smoking a marinated duck over tea leaves and twigs from the camphor plant. If you still prefer a turkey for the holidays then the Chinese version is carefully steeped in a soy sauce marinade with star anise, two different vinegars and sweet syrup. It is then roasted to perfection, assuring a perfectly crispy outside and supple moisture on the inside.

mandarin chateau riceWhen it comes to sides you might want to go with sticky rice stuffing, rice Bao (pancake), spring onions and hoisin sauce. At the Mandarin Chateau, I also tried the Spicy Pickled Cabbage, a very interesting Three Flavors Bean Curd Strips, the Pepper Salt Fish Fillet and a rather amazing House Special Shrimp.

The demand for these birds around this time of the year can he high, so it is strongly advised that you call in your order at least one week ahead of time. Prices for the turkeys range from $30-$60 depending on the size, with the ducks being slightly more expensive.

When it comes to liquid pairings, it comes down to personal preference. I have had amazing Chinese meals paired with Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, as well as Balvenie Single Malt Whisky that highlighted another memorable meal.

For this most recent culinary bash, the drink of choice was beer from the local brewer, Eagle Rock Brewery. A diverse collection of beers accompanied each course, standouts being The Populist with the Shrimp and Tarte Noir with the Peking Duck.

Mandarin Chateau is located at 970 N.Broadway, Los Angeles CA