Tea Smoked Duck

Course: DinnerCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Medium


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Cooking time


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Tea Smoked Duck is often a favourite at upscale Chinese restaurants. It can be quite expensive but is really quite easy to make yourself at home. You can use any type of tea you prefer for this although a good quality black Chinese tea gives a robust flavour that pairs well with the dark red meat of duck.


  • 2 (1-lb) duck breast halves with skin

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium-dry Sherry

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup loose black tea leaves

  • 1/3 cup rice

  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil


  • Pat duck breasts dry.
  • Score skin about 1/2 inch apart through fat (do not cut into meat) in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.
  • Combine rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a sealable plastic bag. Add duck, skin side up, and press out as much air as possible before sealing. Marinate duck (skin side up), chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight. Transfer duck breasts to a plate and pat dry, discarding marinade.
  • Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then swirl in vegetable oil. Add duck breasts, skin sides down, and sear, without turning, until skin is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Toast peppercorns and salt in a dry small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring mixture and shaking skillet occasionally, until peppercorns are fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Coarsely grind mixture in grinder. Rub mixture all over duck, then let stand, uncovered, at room temperature, 1 hour.

  • Line bottom of wok and inside of lid with a double layer of heavy-duty foil, leaving a 3-inch overhang along edges. Stir together tea leaves, rice, brown sugar, and cinnamon pieces in a small bowl, then spread in an even layer (1/4 inch thick) on bottom of wok. Invert rack and set in wok. (It will rest 1 1/2 to 2 inches from bottom of wok.)
  • Using tongs, transfer duck breasts, skin sides up, to center of rack in wok, arranging them 1 inch apart. Heat wok, uncovered, over high heat, until steady wisps of smoke begin to appear, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate, then cover wok and, using oven mitts, fold overhang from wok and lid together, crimping to seal tightly (foil will be very hot).
  • Smoke duck breasts, covered, 8 minutes, then remove wok from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Carefully unwrap foil (smoke and steam will billow out) and transfer duck to a cutting board. Let stand, loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes. Cut each duck breast across the grain into thin slices. Serve duck warm or at room temperature.


  • NOTE: You can use preground spices but toast them a bit in a hot pan to bring out the oils for a fuller flavour.
  • Cook duck breasts to an internal temperature of 170°F to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed. This will be a well done duck breast if you prefer medium-rare, cook to internal temperature of 135°F.
  • A stovetop smoker can be used in place of a wok. Marinate duck breasts, then season with salt mixture, and sear as directed in recipe. Line drip tray of smoker with foil and spread rice, tea, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick pieces evenly over center of tray. Put duck, evenly spaced, on rack. Put smoker on stove, using 2 burners, and heat over moderate heat, uncovered, until chips begin to smolder. Cover smoker. Smoke duck 8 minutes, then remove smoker from heat and let stand, covered in smoker, 10 minutes. Transfer duck to a cutting board and let stand loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes.
  • While smoking, turn on exhaust fan and, if possible, open kitchen window.
  • Smoked duck keeps, cooled, uncovered, then wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and chilled, 2 days.

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