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Zhangcha Duck

Friday, 22 March 2013


This is a style of smoking that hails from China’s Sichuan (formerly Szechuan) region, which is known for its hot, spicy cuisine. Serious Chinese food geeks may be familiar with Zhangcha duck—a tea-smoked Sichuan delicacy that’s tough to make but impressive as hell to anyone who’s never had it before. This is the recipe Mark Masker used for his experiment.  Read the entire article on the Burn! Blog here.


At a glance
Cooking Method
Heat Level
Main Course

One 2 to 2 1/2-pound duck
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan pepper*
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons rice wine
1/2 cup black tea leaves (preferably Oolong)


First you want to clean the duck and open a slit about 3 ½ inches long at the back of it so you can remove the guts. Then, mix everything but the duck and the tea. Marinate the duck in that concoction in the fridge for several hours. Place the duck into boiling water to tighten the hide. This ensures that your duck will have a crispy skin after you're done cooking it. While that's going on, you should start preheating enough vegetable oil or peanut oil in a separate pan to deep-fry the duck later on. Drain the water from the duck, and move it over to your heated wok. The tea sits in the bottom of the wok while you smoke the duck in it for 10-15 minutes. After that, steam the duck for 10 more minutes. Think you're done? Not quite. Let the duck cool off, then deep-fry it in the oil until the skin is crisp. It goes great with rice, veggies, and Chinese dumplings.

Additional Tips

*Note: this is not a chile pepper, nor is it related to black pepper. This from Wikipedia: Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavour that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool) that sets the stage for hot spices. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking (second edition, page 429), they are not simply pungent; "they produce a strange tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electrical current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Sanshools appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once to induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive. So theoretically, this may cause a kind of general neurological confusion." Woot!


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