The creation of the traditional Peking duck dish is something that requires a careful knowledge of an age-old skill. Prepared the same way since the Imperial era, this Chinese dish is an important cultural cornerstone.
The crisp skin combined with the correct fat to meat ratio is something that can’t be replicated utilizing shortcuts of any kind. Far too many people have been fed an inferior product, and there’s a very telling difference between commercially prepared Peking duck and the authentically prepared dish.
An Overview of the Traditional Method
The traditional method of Peking duck preparation is as old as the Northern and Southern dynasties. The chef would choose a White Beijing duck, a breed heavily domesticated in China, and roast the duck to slow perfection. They did this using either a convection method, or a second method that suspended the duck above the flame.
The second method has been continued with a great deal of success throughout traditional Chinese restaurants. The preparation of the traditional Peking duck involves the following:
- Choosing and plucking an appropriate White Beijing duck
- Air is pushed between its skin and flesh, and an incision is made to remove its entrails
- The bird is cleaned and skewered with a wooden rod which allows it to be suspended above the flame
- The duck is sometimes soaked in boiling water to tighten skin and then filled with water and sewn shut once again
- After being thoroughly hung and dried the duck’s skin will be brushed or marinated using sugar or other traditional agents
- The last step involves the suspension of the duck in a large oven at a temperature of around 500F for between 30-40 minutes
The duck will be deemed ready when its skin has a beautiful reddish color and has the crisp texture that can only be achieved via traditional cooking methods. In restaurants that continue to embrace the old ways, the chef will bring the duck to the table and slice it into more than 100 thin and succulent sections.
Why is the Traditional Method Preferred Over Modern Alternatives?
An article by Veronica Lin highlights some of the problems with cutting corners and utilizing cheaper and faster electric ovens. In Lin’s interview with chef Lu Xiaofei, she uncovers the advantages that cooking in the traditional large fireclay oven provides over modern electric means.
Lu notes the chef’s ability to carefully monitor the cooking duck and to make immediate changes when necessary. This close attention to detail combined with the original fruit flavors infused with the woods creates a finished product unique to this timeless method.
How Far Chinese Chefs in California are Willing to Go to Preserve Tradition
The practice of preparing and serving traditional Peking duck is so sacred to the Chinese culture that local California chefs and activists lobbied to have health code exceptions made in their favor. These exceptions allow the duck to be hung in the windows of traditional Chinese establishments while being dried according to ancient methods of preparation.
Since the exception was made for Peking duck in the 1980s , chefs have continued to embrace and practice cooking methods that keep a cultural tradition alive and well for future generations.
Noods Noods Noods is an incredible festival featuring the unlikely combination of two very popular worlds – noodles and video gaming. Following the success of Noods Noods Noods in Southern California, the festival came to Oakland on April 7.
The event celebrated not only the craziest, most inspired, and delicious noodle creations and Asian-inspired food fusions, but also the upcoming official grand opening of Esports Arena Oakland. The skills of some of the best chefs and gamers in the Bay Area were on display.
Chili House SF & Z & Y Restaurant at Noods Noods Noods
Chili House and Z & Y Restaurant showcased our hand-pulled noodles at the event. The special noodle-coated sauce filled the mouth with waves of taste, beginning with a slightly sweet tang that was followed by a smack of satisfying, spicy hot burn.
Kung Fu Tea master Xumin Liu, who has been performing at Chili House since January also dazzled the crowds at the event. His Kung Fu Tea performances were a very popular attraction drawing appreciative audiences.
A Wall of Noodles
Noods Noods Noods Oakland was presented by Foodbeast and NISSIN, The Original Cup Noodles, the 46-year-old company that helped make instant noodles a mainstream dish. A noodle lover on the way in knew they were in the right place when they were greeted at the entrance by the impressive Tower o’ Cup Noodles display.
Inside, the outdoor noodle festival had two sections: the Marketplace with visiting food trucks from all over the Bay Area, and the all-you-can-eat (AYCE) section showcasing unique drool-worthy dishes from Bay Area restaurants. There were so many noodly and other types of Asian dishes that no one could come close to sampling everything on offer.
The idea of founders Paul Ward and Tyler Endres, Esports arenas are designed to fill a niche need for gamers. Traditionally, playing video games has been a solitary pursuit, even when playing online with others. Esports arenas are places where a player can share their gaming passion with like-minded fans.
At Noods Noods Noods Oakland, players could compete in the Super Smash Bros. Melee and Smash 4 singles tournaments with $5,000 in cash prizes. And of course, when they become hungry, there was no shortage of food.
What to do Now that Noods Noods Noods Oakland is Over
Noods Noods Noods Oakland provided the perfect opportunity to try some of the exclusive dishes and premiere food items from the Bay Area’s best restaurants. In a city with no limit on Asian food options, Chili House SF stands out. Chefs Han has earned international acclaim for serving both Sichaun and Beijing cuisine since 1988. Check us out online or call (415) 387-2658 to experience delicious and authentic Chinese dining.
Over the next few weeks, Chili House SF invites you to take a deep dive into authentic Chinese culture and experience one of the most unique and mesmerizing performances in the world, as we graciously host renowned artist Xumin Liu , master of Gong Fu (or “Kung Fu”) tea and Bian Lian, or “face swapping”.
Kung Fu Tea is a traditional form of tea brewing that quite literally translates to “making tea with skill”, traces its roots all the back to the 3 rd century. The overall process, which puts heavy emphasis on quality ingredients, water chemistry, and temperature, helps to bring out and improve the flavors and aroma of the tea, heightening the drinker’s experience.
Liu’s accompanies his performance by serving his tea with complex and acrobatic pours, utilizing long spouted copper teakettles. As Liu has noted, the use of the teakettles goes far beyond the shear spectacle. The resulting pour from the special kettle helps unlock the flavors upon the pour , further heightening the experience.
Bian Lain , or “face swapping” is an ancient dramatic Chinese art and staple of operas in the Sichuan province. Performers in ornate masks and costumes will conduct choreographed moves and dances, all while swapping the color and style of the mask they are wearing at what appears to be fractions of a second. The techniques utilized by the true Bian Lain masters are as heavily guarded as American magicians secrets, with stories of actors offering tens of thousands of dollars to learn the secrets behind the art .
Xumin Liu, a native of the Sichuan province, began studying and practicing the art of Gong Fu tea in his early 20’s, while under the wing of known tea master Shifu Chen. Liu complemented these skills by training in the martial art of Wushu at a Taoist monastery on the Quigcheng Mountian. His background in martial arts helps give his Gong Fu performances an added level of fluidity and athleticism, capturing the awe of all who come to see him (including world famous California chef Alice Waters ).
About ten years ago, famed face-swapping artist Shimen Lu took one of Liu’s Gong Fu performances in Korea and immediately recognized his natural talent and presence. That performance lead to Lu offering to take Liu under his wing and teach him the coveted art of face swapping. After years of practice, Liu includes a face-swapping aspect into all his dinner shows, rounding out a truly magical performance.
Liu will be gracing our diners with his one-of-a-kind performances over the next eight weeks, giving you ample time to come plan an excursion out to the our Inner Richmond location to take in a once in a lifetime dining experience. As we want all of our diners to be able to take in one of Liu’s shows, we suggest calling ahead to ensure Liu will be performing during your visit.
We hope to see you there, you will not want to miss it!
Since the mid 1800s, San Francisco has been ground zero for the most vibrant Chinese New Year celebrations in North America. As a long time haven for immigrants and ex-pats looking to establish a life in West, the growing Chinese population quickly established cultural roots in the city and helped establish the worlds most well known Chinatown outside of Asia. By the 1860’s, community began using the New Year celebration to not expose westerners to their culture, but also incorporate elements of American holiday festivities, such as the parade. As a result, the Chinese New Year Parade was established.
Over time, the celebrations became bigger and bigger, evolving into a festival spanning two weeks and featuring a plethora of fun events. This year marks the Year of the Dog (year 4716 on the lunar calendar), and the city has been hard a work making sure this years celebration goes off without a hitch. Below you will find some of these years events you will not want to miss!
Mini Procession Preview and Ribbon Cutting (Feb. 10th)
The mini procession review is the perfect place to get a sneak-peek at some of the floats that will feature prominently in the upcoming larger parade. This event follows the original parade route used over 150 years ago. Beginning at St. Mary’s Square and ending at the Flower Market Fair’s main stage (on Washington below Grant), the parade concludes with a ceremonial ribbon cutting attended by city official and honored guests (signifying the official opening of the festival). Guests in attendance will enjoy lion dancers, drummers, giant puppets and other performances. Read more here .
Flower Market Fair (Feb. 10th – 11th)
Immediately following the mini parade, guests can enjoy the annual Flower Market Fair , where over 120 vendor booths and concessions showcase an abundance of fresh flowers, fruits and plants while enjoying traditional dance, music and art displays. There is a significant cultural relevance to flowers and fruits, especially surrounding New Years. Oranges and tangerines both symbolize abundant happiness, and tangerines with the leaves left intact represents a strong secure relationship with your partner. Fresh flowers are a staple of Chinese households as they symbolize good fortune. In fact, a flower in bloom on New Years Day is known to be a sign of prosperity in the New Year so having a house filled with fresh, lively flowers is incredibly important and the Flower Market Fair is the place to be to stock up!
The Chinese New Year Parade (Feb 24th)
The crown jewel of the Chinese New Year’s festivities, San Francisco’s parade is the gold standard at which all other Chinese New Year parades are measured. This year’s parade will feature over 100 participants, allowing attendees to enjoy scores of elaborate floats, displays, and performances from groups and organizations across the greater Bay Area. The crowd favorite is always the Golden Dragon, a 268 ft. puppet operated by a team of over 180 men and women that is truly a sight to see. There will also be plenty of fireworks, so make sure to pack earplugs!
Attendee the parade is free of charge, although spectators who wish to purchase tickets to sit in designated bleacher seats along the route may do so. Additionally, the parade will be broadcast live on KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26.
Chinatown Community Street Fair (Feb 24th-25th)
As the festival begins to wind down, Chinatown plays host to the Community Street Fair , featuring over 100 different vendors and concessions selling a wide array of art, clothing and gifts to help commemorate the events of the festival. Attendees can enjoy traditional Chinese food and entertainment, while being given the opportunities to take photos with some or the giant dragons and puppets that were featured in the parade.
No matter what you choose to do to help ring in the Chinese New Year, San Francisco has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Although it may be tough to attend them all, just going to one of the many great events this festival has to offer will give you a front row seat to immerse yourself in authentic Chinese culture.