Zhangcha duck, tea-smoked duck, or simply smoked duck (literally: 樟茶鸭 zhāngchá yā, camphor-tea duck) is perhaps THE quintessential dish of Sichuan cuisine.
It is prepared by hot smoking a marinated duck over tea leaves and twigs of the camphor plant. Due to its complicated preparation, zhangcha duck is eaten more often in banquets or festive events than as a daily household item.
In total, it’s a 4-step coking process for this most elevated of dishes: marinating, roasting, smoking and frying!
Camphor-smoked duck requires – unsurprisingly – camphor wood shavings which are completely unavailable in the States (and not all that easy to find, even in Asia!). Every recipe for it calls for a different blend of smoking materials, all of which lack the essential camphor flavor that makes this recipe what it is.
We have had no other choice – until now.
I believe I’ve come up with a unique and creative solution to this problem, Citizens! You see, in some Indian grocers, you can purchase Camphor crystals which are incredibly pungent and completely edible. They steam the aromatic oils out of the Camphor wood, then crystallize it to form (in Hindi) pachha karpooram.
Grinding some of these crystals over smoking materials of Jasmine tea, lapsang souchong tea, and oak before smoking should enable a totally authentic Sichuan Camphor-roast duck – probably for the first time ever in the U.S.!
I am now destined to be immortalized as the man who enabled the true recipe to be experienced by the gweilo (White Devils) of the world. 😉
IMPORTANT NOTE: Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES buy ‘Camphor’ at a drug store or ANYWHERE outside an Indian grocery to use in a recipe – this is synthetic camphor and is NOT EDIBLE. Edible camphor known as “pachha karpooram” [பச்சைக் கற்பூரம்] is used in Indian desserts – DO NOT USE ANY OTHER CAMPHOR UNLESS IT IS LABELLED AS EDIBLE!!! You can buy it here.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
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