Christmas Duck!

For the 4th year, in what is becoming a holiday tradition, we celebrated Christmas with Yuan and duck.  As usual, for Christmas Eve, we had Norwegian meatballs, mashed potatoes and lefse.  Bjorn’s parents were also in town this year and our meatballs were made by his mom, a person of actual Norwegian descent.  You know, as opposed to me and Yuan who try to put soy sauce in the gravy.  They were delicious!  We were also gifted with a lefse stick, a fancy stick with Scandinavian designs painted onto the side of it used to flip the Norwegian potato crepe.  Even though Bjorn made lefse last year with a spatula, rolling pin and pancake griddle, according to any proud Norwegian American, making lefse requires special equipment.  Now all we need is the lefse rolling pin and lefse griddle.

For Christmas day dinner, Yuan, a.k.a. Chinese Santa, brought up two ducks to smoke.  I love Chinese Santa.  He brings the best presents and stuffs my stocking with Asian gummies.  That’s not supposed to sound dirty.

Bjorn’s parents and some Davis friends rounded out our Christmas day dinner. In addition to the duck, we made fried scallops, mustard greens, roasted root vegetables, shrimp fried rice, and cranberry eggnog tart. Perhaps a bit of an eclectic Christmas menu but when Yuan and I are in charge of holiday menu planning, you always get shrimp fried rice.

Fried scallops and Mustard Greens

Noodles!

When the three squabbling asians need quick and delicious fortification, we inevitably turn to NOODLES! In the three squabbling asians kitchen, two of us get very cranky when we are not fed.  You can guess as to which two.  We all love noodles and it’s ready in less than 20 min.  Yuan and I grew up in households where noodles were the go-to meal and keep noodles in our pantries at all times.  As Yuan says, “Having no noodles is like having no rice.” The horror.

Last weekend we all got together in Davis and had a full day of activity and cooking.  Sunday morning, I found duck broth, fresh spinach, roasted pork belly, and Bernie’s backyard Banty eggs in my fridge.  The duck broth was made from the carcass of the roast duck we bought to make duck dumplings.  No part of duck was wasted in our operation.  The spinach was picked fresh from a friend’s garden.  The roasted pork belly was leftover from a self-indulgent pork bun operation the day before.  I reheated the pork belly, sautéed spinach with ginger and boiled some noodles.  I made the broth by putting one small dallop of duck fat, a swirl of soy sauce and ground black pepper in the bottom of each bowl.  Then, right before the noodles were done, I filled the bowls halfway with a mixture of duck broth and boiling water to taste.  I rinsed the noodles and placed a portion in each bowl, then added the spinach, pork belly and fried banty egg on top.  Dericious!

In addition to our cooking projects, we enjoyed the beautiful spring weather by visiting the Davis farmer’s market where we picked up some yummy vegetables and a hunk of jowl bacon.

We also checked out Picnic Day at UC Davis where we watched dogs herd real sheep and wiener dogs run races. No, really, there were wiener dogs racing and/or wandering around in the “Doxie Derby” complete with an announcer, instant replays and custom graphics. Little Miss suffered a giggling fit watching the little dogs running around with their floppy ears and one wiener’s fight with his mortal enemy – orange traffic cone.

We spent an enjoyable and productive weekend in the “country” and kept the squabbling to a minimum.

Duck Mac N’ Cheese

Today, Yuan smoked a duck and I made bacon macaroni and cheese.  Then, Yuan had the genius idea to put them together.  The result was a 900+ calorie, 70+ grams of fat, artery clogging bowl of awesomeness.

Yuan brushed Mr. Duck with a glaze concocted with salt, pepper, honey, lemon juice, chili powder and a bit of Chinese five spice powder and used a fork to poke some holes in the skin.  He built a medium fire of coals and applewood chips on one side of the weber grill, then placed Mr. Duck on the opposite side.  Then he put the lid on, with the open vent over the duck, and smoke Mr. Duck for about 3 hours.  We added more coal and chips once during the process and Yuan periodically basted the duck with juices collecting in his “cavity.”  The entire block and both of us smelled like ducky bacon and Mr. Duck turned out tender and amazingly delicious.

After a recommendation that the Tipsy Pig had the best mac ‘n’ cheese in San Francisco, I decided to try out this recipe.  I soon realized why this particular take on the beloved classic was so tasty – namely, four different kinds of cheese, bacon fat, butter, and a quart of heavy whipping cream.  I halved the sauce recipe and used slightly less pasta.  The recipe pushed for ditalini pasta, but it was the only kind at the store that was NOT on sale.  So we opted for the classic elbow macaroni instead.  This mac ‘n’ cheese was very addictive.  I had two bowls…then I put duck on top of it and ate some more.

Li Qun Peking Roast Duck

It’s almost that time of the year again, Chinese New Years! I’m practicing my roast duck techniques and figured I should share my inspiration.

On my recent trip to Beijing, I really didn’t intend to eat Peking duck. I already had a few excellent roast ducks on my trip and figured there will be plenty of other tasty things to sample. Alas, the food gods had different ideas. The first day in Beijing my friend Mike and I were walking around in some hutongs (old alleys) when we suddenly saw this sign.

I yelled excitedly “Do you know where we are???” If you are a food nerd like me, you’ll recognize this place as feature on Anthony Bourdain‘s show or Gourmet Diary of A Foodie. So even though we had dinner plans in just 4 hours we had to go in and get a little “snack”. 

We got a duck between the two of us and added a plate of peanuts in vinegar to tie us over. After a seemingly eternal wait (but really only 25 minutes) our duck came. It was cut into even little slices with all the accoutrements.

The duck was, well, pretty much perfect. Crispy skin, juicy meat, not overwhelmingly greasy and just a hint of smokiness. Parts of the duck  fat that hung closer to the fire had puffed up a bit kinda like pork rinds.

 

Wrapped in a flour pancakes, with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumbers. I really can’t think of a better afternoon snack! 

The ducks are roasted over fruit wood for a nice hint of smokiness.

Ducks being dried.

China is a fast changing place and who knows if this gem will survive the redevelopment going on all around it. But if you do go, just follow the duck graffiti…

Li Qun Roast Duck

11 Beixiangfeng, Zhengyi Lu, Chongwen District, Beijing