char siu duck

I can think of few things nicer to slowly crisp in the oven than char siu duck. Goose perhaps, but that’s trickier to get hold of.
By giving the tender, fatty poultry the same treatment as you would a more traditional bit of pork and smothering in garlicky, umami-rich condiments the flesh is rendered heady with aromatics. Char siu literally means “fork roast” in Cantonese and is typically a mixture of honey, five spice powder, red fermented bean curd, soy, hoisin and a drop of rice wine (I sourced a tin of the curd from my Taiwanese corner shop). After a quick blanch in boiling water, the duck was rubbed in a mixture of five spice and salt before being liberally anointed with the rest of the marinade ingredients. This doesn’t have the same maltose laquered gloss as those burnished specimens you see dangling from hooks in the windows of China town, but it’s still pretty special nonetheless. After a tantalisingly languid roast we devoured this with some stir fried greens and steamed jasmine rice. The dish that keeps on giving, the  leftover carcass went on to form the stock base of a truly
stunning ramen.

serves 4

1 duck

2-3 tsp. five spice powder

1 tsp. salt
½  bulb garlic, crushed
3 tbsp. honey
120ml hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tbsp. mashed red fermented bean curd
2 tbsp. rice wine
2 tsp. sesame oil

1 lemon, halved


  • at least 4 hours in advance or preferably the night before, prick the duck all over and blanch in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Dry completely and thoroughly before rubbing all over with the five spice powder and salt.
  • Combine everything else and smear over the duck, cover and leave to work it’s magic.
  • Heat oven to 140C/gas mark 1 and stuff the duck cavity with the lemon halves and then roast on a rack for 2 and a half hours, basting every 20 minutes. Crank the heat up to 220C for the final 15 minutes.


  1. Delicious; I’ve been looking for a slow-roasted duck recipe for a while, so I’ll be trying this out. LOVE duck.

  2. Thanks. Will be trying this out tomorrow when Freddie comes back from uni for the weekend. My main challenge is where to source the red fermented bean curd in Winchester; we have a Chinese supermarket in town now so hopefully they will stock it.

    • gastrogeek

      Ah good old Winch! My husband’s from Romsey, I do love it there. I’ll check with my mother in law, she’s a great cook and will hopefully know the best place to source the stuff; although I’m sure the Chinese supermarket should have it.

  3. It’s interesting how red fermented beancurd smells terrible but manages to make things so delicious. That duck looks great.

    • gastrogeek

      thanks, yep reeks to high heaven yet amazingly transformative. Kind of like fish sauce I guess. Thank god for fermented food stuffs! (Except natto. Ugh).

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