Ken Hom’s Crispy Aromatic Duck

How to make crispy duck pancakes, Ken Hom style! A classic Chinese recipe from one of our favourite chefs.

Serves: 4
15 mins
150 mins


  • 1 x 2.75 kg (6lb) duck fresh or frozen
  • 6 slices of fresh root ginger
  • 6 spring onions cut in to 3 inch length
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) groundnut oil

For the spice rub

  • 2 tbsp five-spice powder
  • 7.6g Sichuan peppercorns
  • 25g whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 200g rock salt

To serve

  • Chinese pancakes
  • 6 spring onions, finely shredded
  • Hoisin sauce


  1. If the duck is frozen, thaw it thoroughly, rinse well and blot it completely dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the spice rub together in a small bowl, then rub the duck inside and out with this mixture, applying it evenly.
  3. Wrap well in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  4. After this time, brush any excess spices from the duck. Stuff the ginger and spring onions into the cavity and put the duck on a heatproof plate.
  5. Set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok. Fill it with 5 cm (2 in) of water and bring to the boil. Lower the duck and plate into the steamer and cover tightly.
  6. Steam gently for 2 hours, pouring off excess fat from time to time. Add more water as necessary.
  7. Remove the duck from the steamer and pour off all the liquid. Discard the ginger and spring onions. Leave the duck in a cool place for 2 hours or until it has dried and cooled. At this point the duck can be refrigerated.
  8. Just before you are ready to serve it, cut the duck into quarters and dust with cornflour, or plain four or potato flour, shaking off the excess.
  9. Heat the oil in a wok or deep fat fryer. When it is almost smoking, deep-fry the duck quarters in two batches. Fry the breasts for about 8-10 minutes and the thighs and legs for about 12-15 minutes until each quarter is crisp and heated completely through.
  10. Drain the duck on kitchen paper and leave until cool enough to handle. Then remove the meat from the bones and shred it. You can do this easily with a fork. The Chinese eat it with bones and all.
  11. Serve with the Chinese pancakes, spring onions and hoisin sauce.
  12. For more Ken Hom recipes visit
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Our Story

The Gressingham duck is a unique breed that first came about when the small but flavourful wild Mallard was crossed with the larger Pekin duck giving a meaty, succulent duck with more breast meat, less fat and a rich gamey flavour.