Our Adventures with Howard the Smoked Peking Duck

Smoked Peking Duck
Before I get started, let me caution those that get wary about seeing protein in its “whole” state because this recap will show the entire duck (sans feathers) during the cooking process. If that freaks you out, maybe skip this one and just wait until my next post.

We good?


Smoked Peking Duck
One of my favorite things about spending a big chunk of time with the family over the holidays is that we notoriously tackle the more challenging Foodventures that we’ve previously deemed extremely laborious or too daunting to try. I’m talking about things like start-to-finish-Tamales, Xiao Long Bao and the time V created an homage to one of their favorite dishes from Flushings ChinatownSteamed Glutinous Rice with Crab in Lotus Leaves.

This past holiday break was no exception as Brother and I took a spin at making Peking Duck for the first time using his Traegar smoker. Yes, the decision was made after consuming a few bottles of wine….but aren’t those the best times to make choices?

No? Just us?

Smoked Peking Duck
Luckily, V & L had discovered a FANTASTIC tutorial by BBQ Champion, Harry Soo, on YouTube that we followed to the “t”.

Fun fact: Harry, who is behind Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, lives in Diamond Bar where 4 out of 5 of us sibbies graduated high school – Go Brahmas!

The day of our Peking Duck undertaking, we popped into 99 Ranch Market to pick up some of the essentials that started with a 6 pound whole duck. I removed its wing tips and feet with a large cleaver and then slowly used my fingers to lift and separate the skin from the meat.

Smoked Peking Duck
With Peking Duck, it’s all about spending LOTS of TLC on the skin to create a crisp and glossy finish. Even after using your fingers to loosen the skin, the pros will then use an air compressor to detach the skin so that when the duck cooks, the fat will slowly melt away.

And if the pros tell us to do so, we’re gonna try it! Particularly since V happens to have an air compressor! So he switched out the tubing and rigged a straw to be used as the nozzle — and we were then off to the races!

Easily the CRAZIEST thing I’ve ever done in the “kitchen”.  Brother and I were cracking up the entire time but it totally worked!

It’s how we bond.

Smoked Peking Duck
While V finished blowing Howard up (yes, I named him — and yes, it’s after the 80s alien duck movie), I charred the scallions and ginger as well as toasted whole star anise and coriander.

Smoked Peking Duck
I also mixed up the marinade for the cavity which included five spice powder, brown sugar, hoisin and a grilling spice mix.

Smoked Peking Duck
After we stuffed Howard with everything listed above, V stitched him up.

Smoked Peking Duck
Harry Soo calls this a “spiral stich”.

V couldn’t find a wooden skewer to use, so he whittled a wooden chopstick down. Quite industrious I thought and it definitely did the job!

Smoked Peking Duck
While Brother stitched up Howard, I brought a big pot of water to a boil that included honey, apple cider vinegar and maltose. Maltose is malt sugar and can be found in tubs as shown below at most Chinese/Asian grocery stores. Check the aisles with the honey and jams.

The maltose helps give the duck a nice sheen and color.

Smoked Peking Duck
Then it was time for Howard to take a little dip in the jacuzzi.

Okay….I admit, it looks a bit savage but just trust the process.

(ps. I did thank Howard for his sacrifice before we started everything….seemed like the right thing to do at the time.)

Smoked Peking Duck
I ladled the boiling liquid over the skin for a few minutes until it tightened and firmed up.

You don’t want to cook the duck but you want to make sure that it’s evenly coated. Again, this dish is all about LOTS of TLC for the skin.

Smoked Peking Duck
Once the duck was sufficiently scalded, it was placed on a rack over a sheet pan and went directly into the fridge (uncovered) for 3 days for the skin to dry out.

Smoked Peking Duck
Three days later (Hey–I never said this was quick), we were left with this. The skin was definitely dried and darkened in color – just what we wanted.

Smoked Peking Duck
V then fired up his smoker to 350 F degrees with soaked apple and hickory wood.

Smoked Peking Duck
He then proceeded to smoke the duck for about 70ish minutes.

Smoked Peking Duck
We were a bit concerned because it was much lighter towards the center breast portion. But miraculously in the last ten minutes or so, V said it caught up and became a beautiful dark golden hue all over.

Smoked Peking Duck
Isn’t he lovely???

Smoked Peking Duck
While Howard rested, I made up a batch of flaky scallion pancakes – the perfect accompaniment!

Smoked Peking Duck
They’re really easy to make and I can post a future recipe if y’all are interested.

I also sliced up some thin cucumbers and more scallions to go with the duck and put out some hoisin sauce.

Smoked Peking Duck
Then we called in Nini and L to do the honors of slicing up the duck. It’s a family affair after all!

Smoked Peking Duck
They say traditional Peking Duck should be sliced into over 100 pieces.

But no one’s got time for that!

Smoked Peking Duck

Anyway, I think Nini’s knife-work is just lovely. How many teenagers do you know have such master skills???

Smoked Peking Duck
And voila! Howard in all his glory (THANK YOU HOWARD!)…

The duck was really delicious….the meat was moist and the skin was lovely. And when eaten with the scallion pancakes, cukes and hoisin–totally legit!

Smoked Peking Duck
Check out this quick little recap video I put together—particularly so you can see the whole crazy air compressor situation! You can also see some snippets in my IG Stories Highlights.

All in all, I think we were pretty successful and I wouldn’t shy away from doing this again! Love our crazy Family Foodventures!

❤ BIG THANKS to Harry Soo for the recipe and tutorial. If you’re into BBQ’ing, definitely check out his YouTube channel.

Poultry · Vietnamese

Short-Cut Roast Duck Noodle Soup

Roast Duck Noodle Soup

It’s that time again….

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

Tết – the Lunar New Year! And this year marks the Year of the Monkey….the Fire Monkey. Which means if you were born the years of the Dragon, Snake or Ox — good things should be coming your way. As for me, I’m of the Horse and as long as nothing “ominous” is slated, I’m totally good with that.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
In honor of Tết, I decided to share with you a “short-cut” version of Roast Duck Noodle Soup. What’s the short-cut? I run out to Sam Woo BBQ to pick up one of their roast ducks! And I’ll be honest with you, there’s not one part of me that feels bad doing it either.

Their Cantonese style ducks are stuffed with bean paste, scallions and MAGIC….before getting a shellac of a honey mixture to get the skin crispy and brown. The duck is then chopped up and served with either a plum sauce or a dark dipping sauce that at first glance looks like an oily soy sauce. But it’s more of a rich, umami filled broth. DEFINITELY ask for extra because that’s what I add to the soup to give it some extra OOMPF!

No Sam Woo BBQ in your area? BUMMER! But any local Chinese BBQ spot – or even restaurant, will do the trick. Just be sure to ask for the broth-like dipping sauce.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup

In addition to the dipping sauce, the soup consists of stock (duck -if you have it, otherwise chicken is fine), toasted spices and aromatics, as well as a few pieces of the roast duck. I usually just throw in the wings and duck head since I’m not one to gnaw on either of those parts.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
After the soup simmers for some time, it’s ladled over some egg noodles, bok choy and served with pieces of the roast duck. Easy Peasy!

The dish is my quick nod to Mì Vịt Tiềm – which is Vietnamese Roast Duck Noodle Soup. However, since the duck isn’t marinated in Five Spice, the soup and duck itself isn’t as dark as traditional Mì Vịt Tiềm. It’s also doesn’t have the deep flavor that Five Spice imparts which is why I like to make a spice sachet of toasted anise, coriander, black pepper and cinnamon to mimic it.

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
Once again Friends, let me say Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! 

May this Year of the Monkey bring you and your loved ones Health, Luck, Laughter and endless Adventures……


Short-Cut Roast Duck Noodle Soup
Serves 6


2 star anise
6 cloves
½ cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
1 small white onion
3 inch piece of fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
4 quarts low sodium duck stock or chicken stock
1 quart water
1 store-bought chopped Peking/Cantonese style roast duck with dipping broth/sauce
kosher salt
fish sauce
Maggi seasoning (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 cups sliced shiitake or oyster mushrooms
2 scallions, diced
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 small bunch bok chok, trimmed and washed
½ cup cilantro leaves
Thai chilies, minced


Place the star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and peppercorns in a small skillet. Over low heat, toast the spices for 2-3 minutes; frequently shake the skillet to toss the spices. You’ll want to toast them until they’ve browned but not burned. Transfer the spices to a small plate to cool completely. Once they’ve cooled, place them with the bay leaves in the center of a square piece of cheesecloth. Gather up the edges of the cloth and tie it into a bundle with kitchen twine. Set aside.


Using tongs to hold the onion, carefully char the exterior over an open flame of your stove burner—rotating the onion to char evenly. Set aside and repeat with the ginger. This can be done under the broiler of your oven as well.


Pour the duck stock, water, about a cup of the duck dipping broth/sauce and sachet of spices into a large pot. Add the duck wings, duck head (if included), charred onion, charred ginger and garlic into the pot and bring the liquids to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, periodically skim off and discard any impurities that may have formed. Stir in 1-teaspoon salt, 1-tablespoon fish sauce, 1-tablespoon Maggi and add the scallions and mushrooms. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes.


Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Boil the egg noodles according to the package until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot (save the boiling water) and drain in a colander. Divide the noodles amongst six bowls. Drop the bok choy into the boiling water and stir around for 30 seconds. Remove the bok choy and divide amongst the bowls.


Taste the broth and add additional fish sauce or Maggi as needed. Bring to a rolling boil and then ladle the broth into each bowl. Top each bowl with mushrooms and a few pieces of roast duck. Garnish with cilantro and chilies. Serve immediately with a dish of the remaining dipping broth/sauce.