Peking Duck: A History and Appreciation of China’s Iconic Dish

A photo of a chef carving a roasted Peking Duck at a restaurant

Peking Duck is a famous dish originating from China that has gained worldwide acclaim for its crispy skin, tender meat, and rich flavor. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the early history of Peking Duck, its contemporary preparation, and its impact on global cuisine.

The Early History of Peking Duck

Peking Duck has its origins in Imperial China, where it was a highly sought-after delicacy enjoyed by emperors and their courtiers. The dish was first prepared during the Yuan Dynasty, but it wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty that it gained popularity in the Imperial Court.

During this time, the dish was prepared using a special method that involved roasting the duck in a closed oven with a fruitwood fire. This gave the duck a crispy, golden-brown skin and succulent, flavorful meat.

Spread of the Dish

As Peking Duck became more popular in the Imperial Court, it began to spread to the general public. By the early 15th century, Peking Duck had become a staple dish in Beijing’s food scene.

The dish also began to spread outside of China, with early adopters including Japanese and Korean merchants who brought the dish back to their home countries.

Contemporary Peking Duck

Today, Peking Duck is a popular dish not only in China but also in countries all around the world. While the dish’s preparation has evolved over time, it remains true to its roots with a focus on crispy skin and succulent meat.

Modern Preparation

Peking Duck is typically prepared using a specific breed of duck called the Pekin duck, which is known for its meatiness and large size. The duck is seasoned with a mix of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and star anise, and then roasted until the skin is crispy and golden brown.

The cooking process is complex and involves multiple steps, including blanching, air-drying, and roasting. The result is a dish with crispy skin and tender, juicy meat.

Popularity of the Dish

Today, Peking Duck is enjoyed by people all over the world and has become an integral part of Chinese cuisine. The dish has also gained cultural significance and is often served at important celebrations and events.

Peking Duck’s popularity has also had a significant impact on global cuisine, with many restaurants around the world offering their own take on this classic dish.


Peking Duck is a dish with a rich history and a complex preparation process that has been enjoyed by people in China and around the world for centuries. Its cultural significance and impact on global cuisine make it a dish worth exploring and appreciating. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of Peking Duck or a newcomer to the dish, its crispy skin, tender meat, and rich flavor are sure to delight your taste buds.

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