Wishing Everyone A Ducky New Year

Make an impression in the new year with this whole, tea-smoked duck.

Make an impression in the new year with this whole, tea-smoked duck.


New Year’s Eve automatically means Champagne.

Caviar, perhaps. Lots of hors d’oeuvres. Even Dungeness crab or lobster.

Why not add duck to that glam list?

There is something special and regal about presenting a whole duck, especially one that is smoked with fragrant black tea, coated in five spice, and served alongside souped-up sweet-tangy hoisin sauce.

Little pillowy steamed buns filled with morsels of the moist duck would turn this into festive finger-food. Or carve at the table, and serve alongside steamed rice or garlic noodles.

“Tea-Smoked Duck with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce” is by master griller Steven Raichlen.

The duck is rubbed, inside and out, with a flavorful mix of five-spice powder, sugar, salt, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper. The skin is pricked all over with a fork, which will allow the fat to render to leave the skin nice and crisp.

Burnished, smoky, and utterly delicious.

Burnished, smoky, and utterly delicious.

The smoking mixture is an unusual mix of cherry wood smoking chips, white rice, black tea, sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anise and tangerine peels.

The duck ends up incredibly flavorful. You can really smell and taste the spices, and the earthy, tannic black tea.

In fact, the duck is so flavorful, you don’t necessarily need the accompanying “Hoisin Barbecue Sauce.” It’s jarred hoisin sauce that gets doctored up with ginger, honey, rice wine, sesame oil and cilantro. I had some leftover sauce, so I used it to stir-fry pork a few days later, and it was delicious that way.

Ring in the New Year with a dish to remember. Or wait a few weeks to serve it for Chinese New Year. Either way, you will be deliciously rewarded.

Redolent of five spice, star anise, and cinnamon.

Redolent of five spice, star anise, and cinnamon.

Tea-Smoked Duck with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

(Serves 2 to 3)

1 duck (5 to 6 pounds), thawed for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if frozen

For the rub:

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the smoking mixture:

2 cups cherry wood smoking chips

1/2 cup white rice

1/2 cup black tea

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

3 star anises

3 strips tangerine or orange peel

For the hoisin barbecue sauce:

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger


To prepare the duck: Wash the duck inside and out and blot dry.

To make the rub: Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, five-spice powder, coriander, and cinnamon in small bowl and stir to mix. Season the front and main cavities of the duck with half the rub. Brush the outside of the duck all over with sesame oil. Sprinkle the outside of the duck all over with the remaining rub, rubbing it into the skin. Note: Usually, I don’t bother trussing the duck as you’ll get better absorption of the smoke flavor if the cavity is left open. But you can for a nicer presentation.

Prick the skin of the duck all over with the tines of a sharp fork. (Do not pierce the meat.) This gives you crisper duck skin as the fat is channeled away.

Make the smoking mixture: Place the wood chips, rice, tea, sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anises, and tangerine peel in a bowl and stir to mix.

Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 300 degrees. Place the duck on the rack with a drip pan underneath it. Add half the smoking mixture to the fire or wood chamber. Smoke the duck to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 2 hours.

Increase the smoker heat to 350 degrees (if possible). Brush the duck skin all over with fat from the drip pan or more sesame oil. Add the remaining cherry wood and smoking mixture and continue smoking until the skin is dark and crisp and the duck is cooked through, 175 to 180 degrees, another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (The Chinese eat their duck well done.) There are two ways to test for doneness. Wiggle one of the drumsticks: the leg should move freely. Or check the internal temperature of the meat in the thickest part of the leg with an instant read meat thermometer.

To make the hoisin barbecue sauce: Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and gently simmer until thickened and richly flavored, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent scorching.

Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Note: If your smoker does not allow for temperatures higher than 250 degrees, increase the cooking time by 30 minutes to 1 hour.

From Steven Raichlen


More Steven Raichlen Recipes To Try: Thai Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass and Ginger


And: Chinatown Ribs


And: Ginger, Garlic, and Honey Grilled Baby Back Ribs

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