Lai Wah Heen makes one of the tastiest Peking ducks in the downtown core. Good thing, too, since it takes three days to prepare. We asked chef Lau Kwok Wing to show us how’s it done.
1. Lau Kwok Wing, a barbecue chef with more than 30 years of experience, handles all of the kitchen’s roasted meats. He takes a whole duck from Brome Lake farm in Knowlton, Que., and soaks it under cold running water for nearly five hours to soften the bird. The restaurant sells around 20 ducks during brunch, lunch, and dinner, meaning Lau is busy with different stages of preparation throughout the day.
2. The cavity is marinated with a rub of sugar, salt, five spice, and hoisin sauce, then sewn shut with a metal skewer. The bird is hung until it dries and reaches room temperature.
3. The duck goes for a quick dip in boiling water so the skin tightens, the fat begins to render, and the muscles expand, which helps the meat absorb flavours from the rub.
4. A marinade of malt syrup, vinegar, and water is applied. The duck is then hung for a day.
5. Once dry, the bird is suspended in the custom-built duck-roasting oven to cook for up to an hour. It’s then hung to dry again. Repeated dryings help the meat become tender and juicy, and make for crunchy skin.
6. When an order is placed, a ladle of hot oil is poured over the duck to warm it and caramelize the outside.
7. For the first course, the duck is carved tableside and sliced into thin pieces. It’s wrapped in steamed rice crêpes with fine shavings of scallion and cucumber, and homemade hoisin sauce.
For the second course, known as the “crystal fold,” the remaining meat is minced and wok-fried with onions, celery, carrots, and fried egg noodles. It comes with lettuce leaves (the crystal folds) to make wraps.
$56. Serves two to six people. 108 Chesnut St., 416-977-9899.