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.