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Crispy Duck

Crispy duck is very popular in the Sichuan province and it can be found in many restaurants. However, it is also equally popular to cook at home because, unlike Peking duck, it is easier to make in the home kitchen. My modern variation uses duck breast with the skin on. The duck is first seasoned and then pan-fried until the skin is crispy; the cooking is then finished off in the oven. I like serving this with a sweet and sour apricot and plum sauce.

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  • 2 duck breasts, skin on, skin scored in a criss-cross pattern

  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil

  • Salad leaves, to serve

  • For the marinade

  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated root ginger

  • 2 tablespoons Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

  • 2 tablespoons ground Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

  • 6 star anise

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce

  • For the apricot and plum sauce

  • 100ml/3½fl oz water

  • 2 ripe plums, quartered and stoned

  • 50g/2oz dried apricots, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 star anise

  • juice of 1 lime


  • 1.

    Put all the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and stir to combine. Add the duck, cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

  • 2.

    Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Heat a wok or pan over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. Place the duck into the wok or pan, skin side down, and fry for 4–5 minutes until the skin is brown and crisp. Transfer to a baking tray, skin side up, and cook in the oven for 3–4 minutes (depending on how well done you like the duck).

  • 3.

    While the duck is in the oven, make the apricot and plum sauce. Put the water into a small pan and bring to the boil. Add the plums, apricots, sugar, honey, cinnamon and star anise and cook until reduced to a sticky sauce. Take off the heat and stir in the lime juice.

  • 4.

    To serve, place a duck breast on each plate, pour the sauce over and serve with salad.

  • 5.

    Tip: You could also try serving this with my roasted sweet potatoes with smoked paprika.



  • To help vegetables cook in the wok, add a splash or two of water to help create some “steam” whilst stir frying.

  • Use msg free products where possible.

  • Groundnut oil can be substituted with vegetable oil, sunflower oil or corn oil.

  • A large number of dishes can be adapted to suit vegetarians. Look out for where you can substitute the meat for tofu or vegetables and use vegetarian sauces.

  • Use low sodium soy sauce where possible
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