This would be part of Asian Meal #2 but that meal is getting skipped and the duck gets a post of its own.
With six months of no employment ahead the spending definitely has to be low key so heading up to one of the restaurants in the International Financial Centre, a huge glitzy expensive office and mall affair on Hong Kong Island, wasn't high on the list of priorities. Luckily for us the friend we're visiting was happy to go beyond just putting us up and said they'd take us out for dinner too, in their own words 'Any excuse to eat the duck there'.
I've spoke before about my love affair with duck. I adore fat and there are few birds that can compete (the goose probably has it beat, although maybe not pound for pound) with the duck if you're after eating it. You get lovely dark, rich meat too but the star of the show is the fat, rendering down to keep that flesh nice and moist but retaining enough of itself to provide a bit of chew and a melt in the mouth experience. Add to this crisp skin and who could resist? I've read about the multi-course Peking duck served in Beijing - with soup, skin, pancakes, meat and a couple more courses - and it's on my list of things to do when I'm there - but here they pared it down to just two.
Once the duck had been brought whole to our table for inspection it was carved, if it wasn't for our table tucked away around a corner this would have been done in front of us but due to position we had to make do with a sightless wait. The wait was worth it though as we were presented with two plates covered in slices of skin, fat and the merest couple of millimeters of meat. To help them down we had soft, steamed pancakes with plum sauce, spring onion and chili. The spring onions were nicely carved but I would have preferred more delicate slivers from an eating point of view. The skin was crisp, not the shatter on the table crisp shown on Heston Blumenthal's Perfection series but crisp enough to crack under the pressure of teeth, giving way to rich, oily (in a good way) fat and enough meat to stop it being too much. A definite winner.
The second way seemed a bit of a strange thing to do with a roast duck really. The remaining meat from the carcass - and there was loads with both breasts pretty untouched and a pair of legs to go with them - was diced and stir fried with spring onion, sliced youtiao (deep fried dough stick), Chinese mushroom and a woody vegetable which I'm guessing was bamboo shoot. This sticky concoction was to be spooned on to lettuce leaves, rolled and eaten. It was very tasty and full of texture due to crunchy youtiao, bamboo and mushroom, not to mention the crisp iceberg lettuce. I think the duck breast on its own, with something to dip it in, would have been a great second way too and more sympathetic to the meat. It was still a great meal though and way above the kind of food I thought I'd be eating with no salary to fall back on.
On day down and we're doing pretty well for food.