About this recipe:Duck is notoriously fatty, but this method of cooking cuts down drastically on the amount of fat you eat with the meat. For a deliciously healthy meal start with a refreshing salad, then follow with the duck served with spicy or plain rice or noodles and stir-fried mixed vegetables with bean sprouts for extra colour and crunch.
1 duckling, about 2 kg (4 1/2 lb), without giblets
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp five-spice powder
3 tbsp clear honey
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
225 g (8 oz) sugarsnap peas or mange-touts
grated zest of 1/2 orange
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp coarsely grated fresh root ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
75 g (2 1/2 oz) canned bamboo shoots, drained
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
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With poultry shears or a large knife, cut up one side of the duck's backbone, then cut out the backbone altogether. Trim off as much fat as you can and cut off the flaps of skin. Place the duck, skin side up, on the work surface and flatten with your hand. Prick the duck all over, piercing through the skin and fat but not into the meat.
Place the duck in a colander and pour boiling water over it a couple of times to release the fat. Dry the duck with kitchen paper. Push 2 metal skewers diagonally through the duck to keep it flat during cooking.
Mix together the hoisin sauce, thyme and five-spice powder, and spread on the underside of the duck. Place it, skin side up, on a rack set over a roasting tin. Put the honey, soy sauce and 300 ml (10 fl oz) of water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour this mixture over the duck, collecting the juices in the tin. Pour the mixture back over the duck twice more, then leave the duck, on the rack, in a cool, draughty place for about 5 hours. Alternatively, leave it in front of a fan, or in a fan oven with just the fan turned on and no heat, for 2 hours. The skin of the duck should dry out and look a bit like parchment paper. Reserve the honey and soy mixture.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Pour about 300 ml (10 fl oz) of water into the roasting tin. Roast for 1 hour or until the skin is very crisp and brown. If you don't like the spitting noises in the oven, lower the temperature to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) after 30 minutes, and increase the total cooking time by 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the honey and soy mixture to the boil and reduce by half. Set this syrup aside.
About 10 minutes before the duck is ready, blanch the sugarsnap peas in boiling water for 2 minutes; drain and refresh under cold water. Put the orange zest and juice, ginger and soy sauce in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the sugarsnaps and bamboo shoots and heat for 1–2 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the sesame oil.
Divide the duck into 4 portions and serve with the vegetables and the honey-soy syrup.