Recipe: Paleo Peking duck pancakes
Peking duck pancakes is one of my favourite foods, however, until I started working on this recipe I haven’t had them for almost two years. I used to eat them in Sydney’s Chinatown with friends at least once a fortnight but I’ve cut down on that since I avoid gluten and processed foods. However, I’ve really missed the combination of pungent, sweet and salty hoisin with moist crispy duck and fresh onion and chilli so I decided to make up my own, homemade and natural hoisin sauce, my own duck and my own pancakes.
I’ve played around with the pancakes first and after researching the traditional, wheat flour based duck pancakes I decided to make a much simpler version using tapioca, egg and some coconut flour and just pan fry them as thin crepes. Mind you the original pancakes don’t have any eggs and the texture is a little different but I actually think my version of pancakes was quite successful and makes for a great substitute. This little feast is really flavoursome and will hit the spot for those missing the authentic Peking duck pancakes.
Cook’s notes: The pancakes themselves are made with tapioca flour, which is just pure starch from cassava root, also sometimes known as arrowroot starch. It’s high in carbs so consume in moderation, depending on your paleo approach. For those really counting their carb intake, the 1/2 cup of tapioca used here is about 70 g of carbs and 2.5 g of natural sugars. So divide that between about 10 pancakes and you get an idea of how many you can eat based on your intake level. Tapioca and coconut flour can be purchased from most health food stores and online and in many good supermarkets. Chinese Five-spice powder is mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel or aniseed seeds; you should be able to find it in the spice section of your supermarket. Duck can be replaced with sliced beef steak, lamb or chicken. And if you can’t be bothered making the pancakes, just wrap it all in a lettuce leaf.
I like to serve these with a side of stir-fried Asian greens or a salad.
- 2/3 cup Paleo Hoisin Sauce – recipe here
For the duck
- 8-9 x 10cm green onions
- Small bunch of fresh coriander stalks
- 3 slices of orange
- 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper
- 3-4 cups water
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 2 duck breasts
- Extra Chinese Five-spice powder, salt, pepper and coconut oil for cooking
For the pancakes
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
- Macadamia oil coconut oil or ghee for frying
- 5-6 pale stalks of the spring onions, sliced lengthways
- 1 long red chilli, sliced
- 1 small Lebanese cucumber, sliced into strips
- Prepare the duck first. Place all ingredients, except for the duck, in a deep frying pan or flat round saucepan and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 4-5 minutes, allowing all the flavours to infuse. Remove from the heat and place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the broth. Move some of the onions and orange to the top so the meat is covered as much as possible. Cover with a lid and let the duck poach gently in hot broth for about 15 minutes (not on the heat).
- While the duck is poaching, prepare the hoisin sauce if you haven’t done this ahead of time already. The recipe for paleo hoisin sauce is here.
- Now prepare the pancakes. Whisk the eggs with water, onion powder and sesame oil until slightly frothy, about 30 seconds. Add tapioca flour and whisk until dissolved and incorporated. Then add coconut flour and whisk until well combined.
- Heat a teaspoon of macadamia oil or coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Using a large spoon or a small jug, pour about 1/5 a cup of egg mixture into the pan and at the same time swirl the pan around so that the mixture spreads into a thin, crepe like pancake. It should start cooking through instantly. Leave the pan on the heat, cooking for about a minute or until light, golden brown marks appear on the bottom side. Then flip the pancake over and cook on the second side for about 30 seconds. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. You should get around 9-10 pancakes out of it.
- Now remove duck breasts from the broth and place on a plate. Season with sea salt, pepper and a bit of Five-spice powder on both sides. Heat a thin layer of coconut oil or macadamia oil in a skillet/frying pan over high heat. Place the duck skin side down and reduce the heat to low. Cook on low heat for 12-15 minutes, allowing as much fat in the skin as possible to render. The skin will turn beautiful golden brown and crispy and most of the fat will melt into the frying pan. Baste the duck meat with the melted fat and juices a couple of times during the cooking process.
- After 15 minutes, turn the duck over and cook the flesh side for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove to a chopping board and rest for 3-4 minutes. While the duck is cooking, slice all additional ingredients and set the table. Finally, slice the duck and serve .
- Roll each pancakes filled with half a teaspoon of hoisin sauce, 3 pieces of duck, 1-2 onion strips, 1-2 cucumber strips and some chilli.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 3