Peking Duck Takes a Bao

by Korakot Suriya-arporn
Dan Catinella
December 2014


Sexy, bronzed Peking duck—with its crisp skin and succulent meat—is the result of millennia of Chinese tradition. It’s also the culmination of Chef Scott Drewno’s three-day process that transports Peking duck from the Ming Dynasty to modern day Washington, D.C. At The Source, Drewno prepares plump, fatty Peking duck with extreme tenderness, love, and care (but no bicycle pump, for the record). For pick-up, he defies Chinese dictates of hot water pancakes, and opts for squishy, pillowy bao buns—ensuring the painstakingly prepared duck remains the hero of the dish.

Peking Duck

  1. Have your purveyor slaughter, pluck, eviscerate, and clean a duck and deliver it to the restaurant, head-on.
  2. Fill a stock pot with 3 gallons water and ¼ cup baking powder. Bring to a rolling boil.
  3. With a meat hook or tongs, dip duck in liquid 20 seconds, pat dry, and pull skin tight at either end. Dip again for 10 seconds and pat dry. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
  4. In a stockpot, bring cider vinegar, Chinese red vinegar, water, maltose, cinnamon, star anise, garlic, and ginger to a rapid simmer. Submerge duck and cook 3 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
  5. Prepare a sauce by bringing hoisin, soy, sugar, and rice vinegar to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chile oil.
  6. Season duck cavity with hoisin sauce and salt.
  7. Using a skewer or stitch, truss ducks to seal cavity.
  8. Hang duck in walk-in at least 24 hours to dry.
  9. Heat convection oven to 350°F. Roast duck on a wire rack 1 hour. Rest 20 minutes.
  10. Heat oven to 500°F. Flash-roast duck to crisp up skin 20 minutes. Rest 5 minutes.
  11. Carve skin and meat from duck.
  12. Brush insides of bao buns with hoison sauce, top with duck, and garnish with julienned cucumber, thinly sliced scallion, and cilantro.