Shanghai duck

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Shanghai duck

Shanghai duck

“Shanghai Duck” is a term that typically refers to the way duck is prepared and served in the style of Shanghai cuisine, which is known for its sweet, soy-based sauces and emphasis on the balance of flavors. Here’s a recipe for a Shanghai-style duck dish:

Chinese recipes:

Shanghai-Style Sweet Soy-Glazed Duck


  • 1 whole duck (about 5-6 pounds)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
  • 1/2 cup rock sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (about 3 inches), sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 2-3 dried red chili peppers (optional for heat)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Green onions and sesame seeds for garnish


  1. Prepare the Duck:
    • Clean the duck thoroughly, removing any excess fat and giblets. Pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Make the Glaze:
    • In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, ginger, garlic, star anise, and dried red chili peppers (if using).
    • Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  3. Marinate the Duck:
    • Place the duck in a large container or resealable plastic bag. Pour the cooled glaze over the duck, ensuring it’s coated evenly. Seal the container or bag and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, turning the duck occasionally to marinate evenly.
  4. Preheat the Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  5. Roast the Duck:
    • Remove the duck from the marinade and place it on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
    • Roast the duck in the preheated oven for about 2 to 2.5 hours, basting it with the marinade every 20-30 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the duck is cooked through. You can cover the duck with foil if it’s browning too quickly.
  6. Rest and Slice:
    • Let the duck rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. It should be juicy and flavorful.
  7. Serve:
    • Slice the duck and arrange it on a serving platter. Drizzle with some of the remaining glaze and garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
  8. Enjoy:
    • Serve your Shanghai-style sweet soy-glazed duck with steamed rice and your favorite vegetables for a complete meal.

This Shanghai-style duck is known for its sweet and savory flavor profile, with tender meat and crispy skin. It’s a delicious representation of Shanghai cuisine and is sure to be a hit at your dinner table.

Holan East China

A Culinary Treasure of the East of China

Shanghai, a bustling metropolis on China’s eastern coast, is celebrated for its rich culinary traditions, and at the heart of Shanghai cuisine lies a culinary masterpiece known as Shanghai Duck. This article delves into the origins, preparation, and cultural significance of this dish, providing insight into how this dish has become a beloved symbol of the East of  China’s gastronomic heritage.

I. The Origins of the dish: A Glimpse into History

“Shanghai Ya” (上海鸭) in Mandarin, is a dish that encapsulates the essence of Shanghai cuisine. Its history can be traced back to ancient China, with roots in traditional Chinese cooking methods. However, it has undergone various adaptations and refinements to become the iconic dish it is today.

II. The Preparation of the dish: An Artistic Endeavor

The preparation of this dish is an intricate and artistic process that involves several key components:


  • Duck: A whole duck, often chosen for its tender meat.
  • Sugar: Rock sugar or brown sugar for the glaze.
  • Soy Sauce: Light and dark soy sauces to create a sweet and savory flavor.
  • Shaoxing Wine: A type of Chinese rice wine that adds depth and aroma.
  • Fresh Ginger: Sliced ginger for added fragrance.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic for flavor.
  • Star Anise: To infuse a subtle licorice note.
  • Dried Red Chili Peppers (optional): For a hint of heat.
  • Vegetable Oil: Used for basting.

Preparation Steps:

  1. Clean and Prepare the meat: the animal is cleaned, dried, and prepared for marinating.
  2. Make the Glaze: The glaze is prepared by combining soy sauce, sugar, Shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic, star anise, and dried red chili peppers (if desired). This mixture is simmered until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a fragrant and savory sauce.
  3. Marinate the meat: The meat is marinated in the glaze for at least 6 hours or overnight, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  4. Roasting: The marinated meat is roasted in an oven, with regular basting to create a crispy and flavorful skin.
  5. Rest and Slice: After roasting, the meat is allowed to rest for a few minutes before it is expertly sliced for serving.
  6. Serving: The succulent slices of this dish are arranged on a platter, drizzled with the remaining glaze, and often garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

III. Cultural Significance: The Essence of Shanghai

This dish is not just a dish; it is a representation of Shanghai’s vibrant culture and cuisine. It is often associated with celebrations, family gatherings, and important occasions. The tradition of enjoying Shanghai Duck embodies the city’s values of harmony, balance, and unity, reflecting the region’s deep-rooted connection to culinary artistry.

IV. Regional Variations: The Diverse Flavors of Shanghai Cuisine

While this dish is a celebrated dish in Shanghai, it is also enjoyed in neighboring regions and cities throughout East China. These variations showcase the adaptability and diversity of Shanghai cuisine. Each locality adds its own unique touch, resulting in a delightful tapestry of flavors within the same culinary tradition.

V. The Art of Preserving: Shanghai Duck’s Legacy

This recipe, like many Chinese dishes, showcases the art of preservation. Its combination of marinating, roasting, and basting results in a dish that can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, making it suitable for travelers and traders throughout Chinese history.

VI. Conclusion: A Culinary Treasure of the East of China

This dish is more than a dish; it is a cultural legacy and a culinary masterpiece that has transcended generations. Its intricate preparation, rich flavors, and cultural significance have firmly established it as a culinary treasure of East China.

This recipe embodies the deep-rooted values of balance, unity, and celebration that define the region’s gastronomy, and it continues to captivate those who have the privilege of savoring its exquisite taste.

In each succulent slice of this dish, one can taste the essence of East China’s culinary heritage and the rich tapestry of flavors that define this vibrant region.

Holan East China

Sesame Seeds in Chinese Cuisine: A Tiny Ingredient with Big Flavor

Sesame seeds, known as “zhīma” (芝麻) in Mandarin, are a small but mighty ingredient in Chinese cuisine. They are cherished for their nutty flavor, versatility, and their role in adding texture and aroma to a wide range of dishes. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of sesame seeds in Chinese gastronomy, their culinary uses, and the cultural aspects associated with this flavorful ingredient.

I. Sesame Seeds in Chinese Culture: A Symbol of Good Luck

Sesame seeds hold cultural significance in China, where they are associated with good luck and prosperity. In Chinese tradition, the phrase “开门见山” (kāiménjiànshān) is a homophone for “开面煎馓” (kāimiànjiānsǎn), which translates to “making a fortune.” This linguistic connection has led to the belief that consuming sesame seeds brings good luck and opens the door to wealth and success.

II. Varieties of Sesame Seeds:

There are two primary types of sesame seeds used in Chinese cuisine:

  1. White Sesame Seeds: These seeds have a mild, delicate flavor and are often used for garnishing, in desserts, and in dishes where their appearance remains prominent.
  2. Black Sesame Seeds: Black sesame seeds have a stronger, more intense flavor with a hint of bitterness. They are often used in both sweet and savory dishes, especially in desserts, pastries, and dim sum.

III. Culinary Uses of Sesame Seeds:

Sesame seeds are a versatile ingredient in Chinese cuisine, offering a range of culinary applications, including:

  1. Garnish: Sesame seeds are commonly used as a garnish to add visual appeal and a subtle nutty flavor to dishes. They are often sprinkled on stir-fries, salads, and noodle dishes.
  2. Sauces and Dressings: Toasted sesame seeds or sesame paste are key components in Chinese sauces and dressings. One popular example is sesame paste used in dishes like cold sesame noodles.
  3. Dim Sum: Black sesame seeds are a common filling for various dim sum treats, including buns, dumplings, and pastries.
  4. Desserts: Sesame seeds, particularly black ones, are used to make sweet treats like sesame balls (jian dui) and sweet rice cakes (tangyuan). Black sesame paste is also a common filling in Chinese desserts.
  5. Marinades and Seasoning: Sesame seeds, especially toasted and ground, are used in marinades for meats and poultry. They also enhance the flavor of stir-fried and braised dishes.
  6. Sesame Oil: Sesame oil, extracted from roasted sesame seeds, is a fundamental flavoring and seasoning in Chinese cooking. It imparts a rich, nutty aroma to dishes and is often used for finishing touches.

IV. Nutritional Benefits:

Sesame seeds are nutrient-dense and offer several health benefits, making them a valuable ingredient in Chinese cuisine. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In Chinese traditional medicine, sesame seeds are believed to nourish the liver and kidneys and improve overall vitality.

V. Conclusion: A Flavorful Tradition

Sesame seeds may be small, but their impact on Chinese cuisine is substantial. Their nutty, aromatic flavor and cultural significance make them a valuable addition to countless dishes, from savory stir-fries to sweet desserts.

As a symbol of good luck and prosperity, sesame seeds are not only a culinary delight but also a cultural treasure that adds depth, flavor, and tradition to Chinese gastronomy. Whether you’re savoring a sesame-crusted dim sum or drizzling sesame oil over a stir-fry, the tiny sesame seed remains a vital ingredient that contributes to the rich tapestry of Chinese flavors.

Holan East China