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Sichuan Crispy Duck (Xiangsu Ya, 香酥鸭)

Adapted from Sichuan (China) Cuisine in Both Chinese and English, published in China in 2010 by the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine and the Sichuan Gourmet Association.
Author: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • 1 whole duck (minus head and feet)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoons sliced ginger
  • 4 scallions, cut into sections
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan pepper (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3 cups canola or peanut oil


  • Rinse the duck and make sure you retrieve anything packed inside, such as the neck and giblets. Put those aside for another use if you wish. Dry the duck off and put it in your steaming bowl. Pour the Shaoxing wine over both sides of the bird and sprinkle all over with the salt, Sichuan pepper and five-spice powder. Arrange the ginger and scallions inside and on the duck. Leave to marinate for two hours.
  • Bring water to a boil in your steamer and place the bowl with the duck inside it. Keeping the water at a low boil, cover tightly and steam. Check periodically to make sure you have sufficient water and top off with boiling water from a kettle when water level is low. Also make sure your bowl does not overflow with duck juices; you may have to dip some out. Check bird after about one hour and 15 minutes. The juices should run clear and the meat should be tender. Continue steaming if necessary, but not so long that duck starts to fall apart. Remove duck from the steamer bowl, standing upright so that the juices run out, then transfer to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, dry it off with a paper towel and leave to cool and dry completely. Retain the duck juices and fat for other uses.
  • Remove the scallions and ginger. Heat wok until you see the heat rise from it, then add about 3 cups canola or peanut oil. Heat to 375°F (190°C) and gently lower duck into the oil, breast side down. Fry until it is deep golden-brown, about five minutes. Carefully flip it over and fry the other side. When both sides are golden, lift bird up and allow oil to drain from the interior. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest and cool briefly. Carve into nice pieces and arrange on a platter. Serve with condiments of hoisin sauce, Sichuan chili flakes or Sichuan pepper salt.


Ground Sichuan pepper: Sort Sichuan peppercorns and discard any black seeds or twigs. Toast in a dry skillet or toaster oven until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar & pestle to your desired coarseness. Sift out any yellow husks that don't break down. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks.