Frying a whole duck is a special treat reserved for a special occasion. This labor-intensive process produces a wonderfully crispy skin, yet still-moist meat that practically melts in your mouth. Finish the duck with a homemade sweet and sticky glaze before serving it; you'll have a main course to remember.
A duck is typically steamed before deep-frying to expedite the entire process. This initial step cooks the duck meat to completion so that the time spent in the fryer is primarily to create a crisp skin rather than cook the duck. Steam the duck in a large steamer basket over boiling water for two hours, or until the duck is tender. Replace the water in the steamer once halfway through the process. Dry the duck thoroughly and cut it into two pieces through the breastbone, removing the backbone while doing so. Dredge each half duck in cornstarch and fry in oil heated to between 325 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry each piece for about 10 minutes total until the skin is crisp and browned.
There are countless glazes that pair well with a duck's fatty and flavorful meat. Plum and hoisin sauce are Asian glazes that are commonly used, while orange, maple and many other sweet-and-spicy combinations are widely used in American and French preparations. Both sweet and savory varieties can be used to add flavor to your crispy duck and once brushed onto the duck, the remaining glaze can be served alongside the entree as a dipping sauce.
Glazing the Duck
Deep-fried duck must be glazed after frying; otherwise the glaze would run off in the cooking oil. Prepare the glaze before you fry the duck; many glazes take time to boil down to the right consistency for coating. After frying the duck, remove it from the cooking oil and allow it to drain over paper towels briefly to remove excess oil. Use a kitchen brush to spread the glaze evenly over the duck before serving.
Duck Cooking Tips
To add more flavor to your duck, marinate it in the refrigerator overnight before steaming and frying it. When you split your duck for frying, save the backbone and any other included parts such as neck and feet, if applicable, to use for making duck stock. Be sure to thoroughly dry the duck in between steaming and frying to prevent oil splatter when you submerge the duck in to the hot oil. Always use a kitchen thermometer when frying to enable you to adjust the burner as needed throughout the process to maintain a steady temperature.