1 x 2.5-3 kg/5-6 lb roasting duck
3 teaspoons salt
125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup vodka
4 tablespoons honey or maltose
500 ml/1 pint/2 cups hot water
Remove fat from inside cavity of duck and carefully slice off the tail and the oil glands on either side of the tail bone. Rinse the duck inside and out, dry with paper towels. Rub inside cavity with salt. Put duck on a large plate and spoon vodka over, rubbing all over the duck. Leave for 4 hours, turning duck from time to time so all the skin comes in contact with vodka.
Dissolve honey or maltose in hot water, brush over the duck, making sure no spot is missed. Place duck on a rack to dry for 4-6 hours in front of a window or with a fan blowing on it to speed things up a bit.
Meanwhile, make Mandarin Pancakes and prepare spring onion (scallion) brushes and small sauce dishes of hoi sin sauce.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Place duck on a rack which sits well above the roasting pan. Line roasting pan with foil to produce more reflected heat, and pour in about 2 cm (1 in) water. Cook for 30 minutes then turn heat to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours or until skin is deep golden brown. If wing tips brown too quickly, protect them with foil. Carve and serve with the traditional accompaniments, and no one will mind that your haven't served your apprenticeship in a Peking kitchen.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)