Christmas Peking Duck: When no traditions lead to new traditions…

Peking duck, steamed buns and accompaniments

Peking duck, steamed buns and accompaniments

Usually there are many traditions that I look forward to at Christmas. There’s the smorgasbord my family puts out on Christmas Eve where I double up on the potato sausage and avoid the pickled herring. There’s deciphering my grandma’s occasionally evil gifts (sometimes she makes us translate Swedish or sends us on treasure hunts) and seeing who found the almond in the rice pudding, earning themselves a year of good luck.

This year, with the way the calendar worked out, it made more sense for me to visit my family the weekend before Christmas. On Sunday afternoon we set up the smorgasbord — loaded up with all of my favorites — and opened our gifts to each other. There were Christmas cookies, card games, my mom’s cranberry bread and plenty of wine. It was lovely.

And when it was over, it felt like Christmas was over — even though it was only Dec. 22.

With family and traditions over with, my husband and I spent our first Christmas ever home alone. Deciding to make the best of it, we thought we’d take a less traditional route to our Christmas dinner: honey glazed Peking duck, steamed buns and roasted pork belly.

After all no matter where you are and who you’re with, good food is a must for any holiday.

We started the process by air-drying our pekin duck for two days. (note: Pekin duck is a breed, Peking duck is a dish.) Basically this means we left it unwrapped on a rack in our fridge for a few days. This dries out the moisture in the skin allowing for more crispy goodness — the best part of any duck.

Air-dried pekin duck

Air-dried pekin duck

Next we brushed the inside and outside of the duck with a glaze of honey, soy, ginger, five-spice and Mandarin orange juice.

Brushing on the glaze

Brushing on the glaze

We let the duck come to room temperature for a few hours before putting it in the oven. It roasted for an hour or so, getting a fresh coat of glaze every fifteen minutes until it looked like this:


Next we gathered together all of the fixin’s: cucumbers and carrots pickled in rice wine vinegar, kim chi Brussels sprouts and hoisin sauce. Oh yes, and the co-stars of the show.

Roasted pork belly -- rubbed with sugar and salt

Roasted pork belly — rubbed with sugar and salt

And the steamed buns, straight from the Momofuku cookbook:

Rolling the dough -- recipe makes about 45 buns

Rolling the dough — recipe makes about 45 buns

Momofuku steamed buns

Buns right out of the steamer — shiny and puffed

Everything came together in a pretty magical way. The two of us ate until we were stuffed, sipping on glasses of pink bubbles and pushing our cats away from the duck.

Hopefully next year I’ll be able to figure out a way to spend Christmas with my family. But if that doesn’t work out perhaps my husband and I will give our Chinese-style Christmas another shot. We don’t have any traditions that are just ours so maybe it’s time to start!



Cheers to a fabulous Christmas feast!

Cheers to a fabulous Christmas feast!


12 thoughts on “Christmas Peking Duck: When no traditions lead to new traditions…

  1. It’s kinda nice to have your ‘own’ Christmas once in a while and start new traditions, don’t you think? Momofuku delights made an appearance in our away-from-home dinner for two this year as well…A very Chang Christmas to us all 🙂 Merry Christmas!!!

    • It’s true! And if nothing else it was nice to have something fun and distracting so I didn’t get sad that my family was hanging out without me. I love that you guys also enjoyed some Momofuku for your holidays. So delicious! =)

  2. how much yummy!!!! We were snowed out of leaving to see my husband’s folks on Christmas eve, so we, too, spent our first Christmas Eve just the four of us. Our ribeye steaks don’t even begin to touch your feast, but there was still something special about doing our own thing.

    For dessert, hope you were over at food for fun for the bourbon balls as they totally seem your thing 😀

    Wishing you a lovely New Year’s and am glad you were still able to celebrate the holidays with your family. I remember your last year’s posts about your Grandma’s crazy games. And something about that herring!

    • Yum — well let me tell you I’d be pretty excited for a ribeye steak right about now. Darn new years resolutions! I’m trying just two weeks of seriously healthy eating but beer and beef are calling out to me! It’s just so hard.

      I saw those bourbon balls on FB but I need go do some reading on past blog posts. Lots of good stuff I missed in all the holiday craziness. And anything with booze needs to be in my repertoire! =)

      And a happy happy new years to you too! Let’s hope it’s even better than the last. =)

  3. Wow. The skin looks so crispy I can hear the loud crunch as you bite into it. Did you see that article on NPR about hair dryer cuisine? Apparently you can crisp up duck skin with it!

    I third the vote for adding onto traditions, especially if it involves pork belly 😉

    Happy 2014

    • Haha! I may actually have to buy a hair dryer now! Though this little guy did pretty well in the oven.

      And yes, I think any tradition involving pork belly is probably a good one! Even if I spend next Christmas with the fam, I think it may need to make a guest appearance. =)

  4. Pingback: It’s January, cue the new year’s resolution clichés! | Attempts in Domesticity

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