Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mr. Panda Comes To Dinner

Nothing livens up a Sunday meal like setting a place at the table for a giant stuffed Panda Bear.
Mr. Panda had been living on the third floor of our house for about a year and a half, and I felt that that a dinner party revolving around two head-on ducks would be a great time to re-introduce him to the world.

You may be asking how we were lucky enough to have this magnificent creature as a roommate, and it’s actually a pretty funny story involving an ex-girlfriend, a yard sale, and the gay pride parade. I think she could probably tell the story best…

I had purchased the birds with the heads on with the intention of doing Peking Duck, which, like Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, is another classic and labor-intensive Chinese feast involving multiple courses. One of the steps is to use an air pump to separate the skin from the body to make it extra crispy. My proposed solution to this was to bring the ducks down to the Mobil Station and hook them up to the air pump for tires while taking multiple pictures, but this idea was quickly shot down and we decided to just roast the fuckers and improvise.

My kitchen partners in crime for this venture were Dietz, who was in charge of roasting the ducks, and Drew, who tackled sides. I decided to put together a hot and sour soup using a much different method than I was accustomed to, one of the major deviations being the use of Chinese red wine vinegar instead of the Chinkiang variety. Other interesting elements included Sichuan mustard pickle, dried bean curd sheets, and dried tiger lily buds.

As of late I’ve been obsessed with the Chinese method of making chicken stock, which involves ginger, wolfberries, scallions, white peppercorns, cilantro, and fried onions. Frying or grilling vegetables adds an incredible amount of depth to a broth, and is essential for creating dishes such as Pho.

To prepare the duck Dietz marinates it in a mixture of Sichuan bean sauce, brown sugar, soy, cilantro, and white pepper. The cavity is then filled with scallions, ginger, star anise, and Ceylon cinnamon, and roasted, turning occasionally, at 400 degrees.
Drew cooks fried rice with the duck hearts, livers, and Lap Cheong (Chinese sausage) and stir fries mustard green stems to round everything out. At this time we realize that a few cans of Lion Imperial Pilsner from Sri Lanka, coming in at about 9% alcohol, can get you pretty fucked up on an empty stomach. I transition into wine and quickly get my head back on track and ready to murder a few bottles, such as the Chateau Des Tours VDP from the Rhone Valley that paired perfectly with the duck.

We decide to serve the duck in dough wrappers with hoisin sauce and julienned scallions, and improvise by making these out of Pillsbury biscuit dough in the bamboo steamer. As you can imagine, fatty, crispy duck served in rich buttery biscuit dough wrappers was utterly ridiculous. No, not remotely traditional but utterly fucking ridiculous…

Dinner conversation drunkenly descends into an argument about old kid's toys, such as Pogo Balls, Power Wheels, and My Buddy. There is a debate about the relationship between Pound Puppies, and Gund, and we try to figure out what kind of fucking person actually collects Beanie Babies and where are they now. It ends with Julie trying to describe a toy that had two big wheels and a seat that you could ride around into which I reply: "I believe you're thinking of a WHEELCHAIR."

photos by Julie Smith


  1. Next time the ducks are about, and provided your associates do not nix the very fine and evil plan to visit the local Mobil station, have Dietz gimme a yell and I'll lend you all my portable air compressor. My one demand is that it not be used in any way on a fellow Mister (Mr. Panda in this instance) during the festivities.

  2. Phenomenal post. I could not stop laughing and at the exact same time salivating over the duck in Pillsbury biscuit dough wrappers. They sound amazing and completely absurd.

  3. You kept Mr. Panda confined for over a year and a half?! How barbaric! He's so fluffy, adorable, and squishy too!

    *clears throat*

    Sorry, I get a little nutso about stuffed animals sometimes.

    Don't wuss out next time and do the Peking Duck. Trust me, it's worth it. Also, David Chang has a recipe for those envelope buns on epicurious somewhere. I did wuss out last Meatfest due to exhaustion from prepping two Peking ducks and bought ready-to-steam ones instead. But clearly, Pillsbury biscuits are the proxy of choice. -__-

  4. Meatball - We'll take you up on that offer and -

    Melissa - You should come over to help do the Peking Duck the RIGHT way. I think we should make both the Chang wrappers and the Pillsbury, because you need to experience just how amazing and wrong they are. I think Mr. Panda will be excited to see you....