Everything but the Quack

The many uses of Peking duck.

Peking duck is a special banquet dish that must usually be ordered a day or two ahead of time, even in Hong Kong (and in China). Its preparation is elaborate: First, the cook separates the skin from the meat by blowing air under the skin. Then, the duck is hung to air-dry for at least 24 hours. Finally, the bird is slow-roasted until the skin turns crispy and a rich, mahogany brown color. Traditionally, the skin is served as the first course; the meat is returned to the kitchen, chopped, and stir-fried, and served as another course—for instance, in Minced Duck in Lettuce Leaves. And even then, the duck has more to give: Its meaty bones are simmered into duck soup for the finale.