January 18, 2013

National Peking Duck Day

"Peking Duck is different from Russian Caviar. But I love them both." - James Bond

It's National Peking Duck Day!

One of the most fun parts about eating the year is the exploration of foods you may not have ever tried (or even heard of!) before. For example: Peking Duck. While I think about the smiling duck served at the end of the movie “A Christmas Story”, I don’t really know what the dish really is or why it deserves its own food holiday. So today is new for me, too!

To start off with, it’s considered a traditional food of Beijing (which used to be called Peking), China. It’s a dish made from the Imperial Peking duck where the skin becomes extremely crispy (this can be done by rubbing the body down with sugar before cooking, and inflating air between the skin and muscle). It’s served with spring onions and a hoisin or sweet bean sauce on a pancake. Supposedly, it was beloved and very popular during the Ming Dynasty in the 1500s.

I’m always intrigued by representative dishes of other cultures. Just because I don’t eat meat doesn't mean I can’t celebrate the flavors and textures of this dish, and the importance it’s had in the culinary world over centuries. Don’t shy away from challenges like this – whether because of your diet, your kitchen know-how, or your budget. Everything is doable with a little creativity!

Faking Duck
- package of tempeh, cubed
- olive oil
- green onions, diced
- cucumber, peeled and seeded then julienned
- bamboo shoots, julienned
- baby corn, julienned
- pre-made hoisin sauce
- bean curd sheets, spring roll wrappers, or tortillas
- Optional: limes

Directions: Sauté the tempeh until it's developed a golden brown crisp on the outside (or darker if you want). Serve on a tortilla (bean curd sheets or spring roll wrappers) topped with cucumber, bamboo, baby corn, green onions, a healthy drizzle of hoisin sauce (a squirt of lime juice if you want, too). Feel good that no pretty duck kitties were hurt during the making of your dinner!

Happy National Peking Duck Day!