The new lunar year began on January 25, officially kicking off the Year of the Rat! There were plenty of celebrations for Chinese New Year, which might have piqued your interest in exploring some of the customs of this Asian culture. One famous tradition is Peking duck. Whether or not you’ve tried it before, the holiday is a great opportunity to learn all about this dish that’s steeped in tradition and history!
Retracing its path
Pekin duck first appeared in Canada at the end of the 19th century, when the number of Chinese-Canadians still only numbered about 7,000. The majority of these immigrants were young farmers from the southern part of China, who had come to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. When they arrived, they brought their customs and traditions with them, including Peking duck. The fowl itself was first introduced to the United States in the New York region, on March 13, 1873 [›››], and we began breeding them in Quebec in 1912. Peking ducks are unique, beloved for their tender and tasty meat.
A dish fit for an emperor
Pekin duck, which is made by roasting the whole [›››] bird, is a flavourful dish that has enjoyed a great reputation for over a thousand years. It was first presented to the imperial Ming dynasty of China and was the favourite dish of (HongWu Emperor & YongLe Emperor of Ming dynasty) Qianlong and Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing dynasty, who were charmed by its sweet and savoury taste. The traditional recipe requires a lot of preparation, but there are plenty of more accessible versions out there, so you can achieve the same results and wow your guests with its delicious Asian flavours.
- Oriental Flavoured Duck [›››]
- Duck Glacé with Lychees and Garlic [›››]
- Maple and Soy Roasted Brome Lake Duck [›››]
- Brome Lake Duck in Sweet & Savoury Sauce [›››]
Fill up on tradition
Like with most of our celebrations, food occupies a special place in the Chinese New Year festivities, which are also known as the Spring Festival. The culmination of this festival is a traditional feast for the entire family. It’s no surprise that duck, which is an integral part of Chinese culture, has such pride of place. Red is a festive colour associated with joy, so people try to emphasize it as much as possible, and this includes foods like Peking duck. The dish is also commonly served the day after new year’s, as it’s great for hosting guests. Tradition states that leftovers are a must for every meal—they help bring the household prosperity in the coming year!