Chinese roast duck

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 30 mins Plus marinating

More effort

Serves 4 with leftovers
John Torode's whole crispy duck with oriental marinade makes for an impressive and alternative Christmas centrepiece

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal1387
  • fat109g
  • saturates30g
  • carbs46g
  • sugars45g
  • fibre0g
  • protein58g
  • salt0.65g
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  • 2 ducks



    Rich and full of flavour, duck meat is extremely nutritious, with high levels of protein, B…

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 6 star anise seeds
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • large piece ginger, sliced



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • small bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
    Spring onions

    Spring onion

    sp-ring un-yun

    Also known as scallions or green onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions, harvested…

  • 2 tbsp malt syrup or maltose (available in most Chinese supermarkets)
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar


  1. The day before, soak 4 wooden skewers in water for 20 mins. Wash the ducks inside and out with cold water, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Mix together the sugar, star anise, ginger, spring onions and a few good pinches of salt, then use this to fill the cavities. Close the cavities with wooden skewers and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the maltose and 2 tbsp of the vinegar. Add the remaining vinegar to a jug of boiling water and pour over the ducks. (The boiling water opens up the pores, while the vinegar helps to strip some of the waxiness from the skin, so it will be more receptive to the maltose, which adds sweetness and a lacquered caramel colour.) Smear the maltose mixture over the ducks, then place them in a large plastic container and put in the fridge overnight, uncovered.

  3. To cook, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7. (Fan ovens are particularly effective for roasting duck.) Put a little water in the bottom of a large roasting tin, place the ducks on a rack over the top and cover with foil. Roast for about 45 mins. Take off the foil and roast for another 45 mins – the duck must be well done, there is no such thing as a rare Chinese roast duck! Take the duck out of the oven and let it rest for a good 20 mins before carving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (2)

lizleicester's picture

I too, didn't follow the instructions exactly (only marinaded for 4 hours), and used golden syrup instead of maltose, but the result was fantastic. Served them with the delicious plum sauce (on this site).

amyh2k2's picture

I made this for a dinner for four and it was scrumptious. I hadn't roasted a duck before and I found this recipe easy to follow. I changed a few things because I didn't have the right ingredients (I used rice wine vinegar, maple syrup and Chinese 5 spice instead of red wine vinegar, maltose syrup and star anise) and used just one large duck instead of two smaller ones, which extended the cooking time, but the results were still excellent.

Questions (1)

alltommat's picture

It is common to add the entire star anise pods in Chinese cooking. Do you mean 6 seeds from the pods or 6 star anise (pods and seeds).

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