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Peking Roast Duck

The Beijing roast duck is one of the most famous local flavors known by many people domestically and abroad. To cook ducks by direct heat dates back at least 1,500 years to the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, when "broiled duck" was mentioned in writing. About 800 years ago, Husihui, an imperial chef to a Mongol emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, listed in his work Essentials of Diet (1330 A. D.) the "grilled duck" as a banquet delicacy.

Today the Beijing roast duck or so called "Peking duck", is made of a special variety of duck fattened by forced feeding in the suburbs of Beijing. After the duck is drawn and cleaned, air is pumped under the skin to separate it more or less from the flesh. And a mixture of oil, sauce and molasses is coated all over it. Thus, when dried and roasted, the duck will look brilliantly red as if painted. Perhaps that is why it is known among some Westerners as the canard laqu¨¦ or "lacquered duck." Before being put in the oven, the inside of the fowl is half filled with hot water, which is not released until the duck has been cooked. For oven fuel, jujube-tree, peach or pear wood is used because these types of firewood emit little smoke and give steady and controllable flames with a faint and pleasant aroma. In the oven, each duck takes about fourty minutes to cook, and the skin becomes crisp while the meat is tender.

In the special Beijing Duck restaurant, the roast duck, after being shown in whole to the customers, is served in slices, which are eaten with rolled thin pancakes. The dish of sweet sauce and scallion or cucumber cut in thin lengths are put together with the duck meat. Few people could resist the temptation of the crisp and delicious taste of the Beijing roast duck. Before the duck appears, however, various warm or cold dishes are often served, made of hearts, livers, webs, wings and eggs, all from the duck. Even duck tongues can be
prepared into very tasty dishes, and the skeleton of the eaten duck normally goes into a soup that finds few equals. A highly experienced chef of the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant can produce an "all-duck banquet" of over eighty dishes made of different parts of the duck. The Peking Roast Duck dinner has been the must to eat local flavor for all of the foreigners who visit Beijing.


One of the most famous local flavors in Beijing is the Mongolian Hot Pot, which has a long history and is best prepared in the famed Donglaishun Restaurant. As winter is very cold in Beijing, the special food "hot pot" thus becomes a natural favorite for local people. The basic ingredients of a hot pot meal include thinly sliced beef and mutton with fresh vegetables, while each one has a small bowl of sauce including mixed sesame paste, chopped pickled chives, fermented bean curd, soy sauce, chili sauce, shrimp oil, sesame oil and local wine. Before eating, wait until the soup in the hot pot get boiling, and dip the lamb slices and raw ingredients into the soup till done, take out and dip into a sauce to make your own delicious food.

Besides the Mongolian Hot Pot, there are also Cantonese and Sichuan hot pot styles, both of which have their own typical flavors. The Cantonese hot pot is relatively mild in the sauce flavor and all ingredients are rather half done, while the Sichuan style hot pot is known for its wickedly hot, spicy flavor that may leave you with a slightly numb feeling on your tongue. Nowadays, many restaurants in Beijing offer "hot pot buffet" where you can select all kinds of food, vegetables and condiments in a buffet table setting, but the most typical and traditional one is always the Mongolian Hot Pot in Donglaishuan Restaurant.

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