Even seasoned epicures sometimes confuse Peking-style duck for Cantonese roast duck and vice versa. What happens then, when Pipa duck is added to the equation? To cut down on any confusion, ask yourself these three questions:
- Is the duck served with steamed soft pancakes, spring onions and a sweet bean sauce?
If yes, then it's Peking duck.
- Is the duck stuffed and seasoned with ingredients such as five spice powder, star anise, sherry and hoisin sauce?
If yes, then it's Cantonese roast duck.
- Is the duck rotund or strangely flat of form?
If the duck seems flatter than usual, chances are you're eating Pipa duck.
Not unlike the plural noun 'drumsticks', which is associated with both poultry and percussions, Pipa is an instrument as well as a style of food preparation. In fact, Pipa duck was named for its resemblance to the Chinese string instrument.
Arguably crispier than Peking duck, Pipa duck is splayed open before being roasted; increasing the bird's surface area produces an extra crunchy exterior.
Since experience is the best teacher, sample the famed Pipa duck in person. Only a handful of Chinese restaurants served the specialised duck dish in Malaysia, including Kam's Roast in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Kam's version is flavoured with orange peel or Chenpi that has been aged for 23 whole years, resulting in an intense, unforgettable aroma.
TATLER TIP: The original Kam's Roast Goose in Hong Kong is a 1 Michelin star eatery.