Succulent Dish: National Peking Duck Day

The long-to-cook, oh-so-venerable dish gets its swanky due.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Peking duck
    A number of Southern California specialize in that specialty among specialties, Peking Duck. Try the delicacy on National Peking Duck Day, which is Saturday, Jan. 18.

    Whenever a national food day comes along -- oh, National Ice Cream Day or National Toffee Day or National Fill in the Blank You Name It Sky's the Limit Day -- you can count on the edible item in question being a snap to find and get.

    But one of the dishes with its own national day does not fall in that insta-category. Rather, Peking Duck is famously long-taking, the swankest of the slow-to-sup-upon dishes.

    What do we mean by "long-taking," exactly? Well, eight hours is pretty long-taking in a food world that wants to turn meals around, snap snap snap. Chi Lin's own executive chef Tyson Wong -- yep, that Tyson Wong, of "Iron Chef America" -- cooks his Peking Duck for a full third of a day.

    And is the word "lacquered" one that you're apt to see in association with the succulent dish? You bet. Chef Wong's creation is definitely a lacquered thing of beauty, as are the sides: plum sauce, cucumbers, scallons, and Porbien crepes.

    Mmm, Porbien crepes. All crepes are good, but named crepes, specifically made for wrapping a moist specialty, are especially praise-worthy.

    A number of Southern California restaurants make the delicacy, though, and not just on National Peking Duck Day (which happens to be Saturday, Jan. 18, if you're keeping track at home). Wolfgang Puck's WP24 goes whole Peking duckling, while Hakkasan in Beverly Hills serves the dish with caviar in addition to the tried/true staples of scallions, pancakes, and cucumbers.

    It isn't so rare, then, but what is indeed unusual is the time of preparation and, yes, that oft-lofted attention to detail we ask of our fine-dining chefs. In a world of instant food, it is interesting, and delicious, to consider those dishes that still take the better part of a day to come together.

    And if Porbein crepes are on the side? So much the better.

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