The cheat: Chinese roast duck

Author: Lisa Featherby
Photography: Julie Crespel

When you have to whip up a meal in a flash, a duck bought roasted and ready to eat is an easy - and delicious - solution.

Roasting your own duck at home is a chore, says chef Dan Hong of Sydney Cantonese restaurant Mr Wong, and he should know - the restaurant roasts 80 birds a day. "The work that goes into them is intense; it's very time-consuming," he says. But picking one up and creating a meal around it is super-convenient. The Chinese staple is a great go-to ingredient when time is short because there are loads of dishes you can put together quickly using it as the foundation. "I love to shred the meat and stir it through some fried rice," says Hong, and it makes a great base ingredient for a curry (see below) or a stir-fry (Asian mushrooms, bamboo shoots, oyster sauce and Shaoxing wine make a great combo). Try it thinly sliced in a warm baguette with a crunchy coleslaw, or tossed with cannellini beans in a citrus and herb dressing as a light lunch. A word of advice: be sure to buy more than you think you'll need, because it's difficult to resist snacking on the meat on your way home.

Duck noodle soup
Serves 4 (pictured)
Bring 1.5 litres chicken stock to the boil in a saucepan, then season to taste with dark soy sauce and sesame oil. Meanwhile, cook 400gm thin egg noodles (or thin egg pasta) in a saucepan of boiling water until al dente (2-4 minutes). Drain, divide among bowls and ladle broth over. Thickly slice the meat of ½ Chinese roast duck, slice garlic chives and pick coriander leaves, add all to soup and serve.

Red duck and pineapple curry
Serves 4
Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a wok over medium-high heat, add 1¼ tbsp red curry paste (see note) and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add 500ml coconut milk, 270ml coconut cream and 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add the coarsely chopped meat of ½ Chinese roast duck and 300gm canned pineapple pieces, drained, and cook until ingredients are warmed through (4-6 minutes). Top with Thai basil leaves and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Note We prefer to use Maesri and Mae Ploy curry pastes.

Peking rolls
Makes 12
Arrange the thinly sliced meat of ½ Chinese roast duck on a platter. Slice 1/2 telegraph cucumber and 3 spring onions into batons and add to platter. Steam 12 Peking duck pancakes in a bamboo steamer over a saucepan of boiling water until warmed through (4-5 minutes), then wrap in a tea towel to keep warm. Place everything on table, along with some hoisin sauce and plum sauce for drizzling, for your guests to wrap.

Quick mushroom and duck risotto
Serves 4
Heat 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add 4 golden shallots, thinly sliced, and 1 garlic clove, crushed, and stir until tender (5 minutes). Add 1½ cups arborio rice and stir to combine. Add 100gm chestnut mushrooms and stir to combine. Add 250ml white wine, stir for 1 minute, then add 3 cups chicken stock, a cup at a time, and stir until rice is tender and liquid absorbed (15-20 minutes). Stir in the coarsely shredded meat from ½ Chinese roast duck and 50gm parmesan, finely grated, season to taste and serve. 

Hot tips
+ A Chinese barbecue shop that prepares and cooks its poultry in-house is the best place to buy Chinese roast duck.
+ The duck should be plump with shiny skin,  and the meat should be eaten the day it's bought.
+ Ask the shop for sauce to accompany the duck.
+ To ensure the meat remains succulent, set the duck aside at room temperature until you're ready to use it.

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