Nanjing Salted Duck
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Nanjing Salted Duck (Chinese: 盐水鸭) is a local duck dish from Nanjing, China. The history of the dish goes back hundreds of years, perhaps to the 14th century, but it grew more famous under the Qing Dynasty. The tender white duckmeat has some fat but is not greasy, and in presentation the dish is fragrant and often crispy. Nanjing Salted Duck prepared before and after mid-Autumn is reputed to taste the best, because of duck production during the sweet osmanthus blooming season (osmanthus may be added to the spice mixture particularly in those months). Sometimes the seasonal version of the dish is called Osmanthus Duck.
Nanjing Salted Duck is often regarded as a dish to share. Be it family holidays or simply daily visitors, people in Nanjing descend to streets to buy a plate of Nanjing Salted Duck as a popular pastime. And with Nanjing thought of as China's "duck capital,", some enthusiasts actually eat almost all parts of the duck, notably duck gizzard, duck kidney, duck heart and duck liver.
Nanjing is a culinary center famous for its Jinling dishes (Chinese: 金陵菜系), especially quality ducks and a whole variety of duck dishes. The number of ducks sold in Nanjing exceeds chicken sales, and duck sales are estimated at about 80,000 ducks daily.
It is important to start with a good duck and preferably a fairly large one. One Chinese-American restaurateur was so disappointed with the supply of quality ducks in California, he felt obliged to deal with a duck supplier in Indiana.
The wings and feet of the clean duck are removed. The body is then eviscerated with the esophagus and trachea removed, the anus is cleared out, and then the carcass is soaked in water to be cleaned then drained. Spices and recipes vary, but a simple approach is 25 grams pepper is rubbed into the body with a further 25 grams stuffed inside. This is cooked in a pot. It is then put in a cylinder to pickle (1–2 hours in summer, 4 hours in winter ), then hung to dry in well ventilated area. Water is then added to ginger 3 grams, onion 1 gram and star anise 1 gram in a soup pot. Make sure that body of the duck is entirely submersed in the liquid. Simmering for 20 minutes is enough for some, but other recipes say up to 45 minutes. Finally, the duck is cut into strips and transferred onto a plate.
Origin, according to tradition
One legend holds that when Zhu Yuanzhang(Chinese: 朱元璋) was the emperor (with Nanjing as the capital in the 14th Century), there was a dispute of sorts, and an edict was issued to kill all the roosters in the city. This solved a noise problem, but the result was no chicken to eat. The people of Nanjing had to eat duck instead, which gave rise to the prominence in Nanjing of duck dishes like Nanjing Salted Duck. Other accounts claim that Nanjing was famed for duck dishes centuries earlier, dating even to the Southern Dynasties (420~589 A.D.).
- Foster, Simon (2010). Frommer's China. p. 407.
- Knapp, Ronald. Chinese landscapes: the village as place. p. 217.
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