Chinese duck in orange sauce recipe

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  • healthy
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 30 mins (plus chilling time)
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories385 Kcal19%
Fat18 g26%

It takes time, but this sweet 'n' sour Chinese duck dish from Woman's Weekly makes a change from your normal takeaway - and would be great for a dinner party.


  • 2tsp Szechuan or black peppercorns
  • 4tsp sea salt
  • 6 duck legs (about 200g/7oz each)
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the orange sauce:

  • 100g (3½oz) light soft brown sugar
  • 5tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce, or a mixture of both
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 large cinnamon stick, broken into a few pieces
  • 4tbsp lime juice
  • 2 oranges, peeled and thickly sliced

To serve:

  • Noodles and pak choi (or spring cabbage)




  1. Put the peppercorns and salt in a small pan and dry-roast them for a few minutes until browning. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then grind them to a powder using a pestle and mortar.
  2. Rinse the duck legs, cut off any excess skin and fat, then dry them well with kitchen paper. Rub them all over with the salt and pepper powder. Cover and chill overnight.
  3. Put the duck portions in a steamer over a large pan of boiling water (tip: pack them in, with the knuckles standing up), cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 1 hr until cooked through. Place the pieces on a tray to cool. This can be done earlier in the day or the day before serving. Chill in the fridge.
  4. To make the sauce, mix the sugar with 100ml (3½fl oz) water in a pan, bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 3 mins. Add the fish sauce and/or soy sauce and spices and simmer for another 3 mins. Remove from heat, and stir in the lime juice and orange slices. Set aside.
  5. Just before serving, toss the duck legs in flour on a plate and shake off the excess. Half-fill a medium-sized, heavy pan with oil and heat until the surface starts to simmer slightly. Fry the duck legs, two at a time, for about 3 mins each, turning them over with tongs halfway through cooking, until they are well-browned and crispy. Watch out, because they can spit. Carefully take them out and drain them well on kitchen paper. Leave to rest in a warm place for 5 mins. Reheat the sauce for about 5 mins until syrupy.
  6. Serve the duck legs with noodles and pak choi, spooning some sauce over. Serve the rest of the sauce separately.
Top Tip for making Chinese duck in orange sauce

If you remove the thigh bones of the duck when trimming the fat and skin, the legs will be easier to eat.


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