Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving and just a few short weeks later, Christmas. It’s the time we gather together, cook together and share not only a meal with family and friends, but continue making holiday memories and sharing traditions.
It reminds me of my childhood family holiday feasts. The table was full of color, flavor, wonder and each meal told a story. But, a few days after the holidays, you could find us at our local Chinese restaurant grazing on a PuPu platter or sharing egg rolls, chicken skewers and other delicious bites. We also celebrated with a full duck served to the table with all the trimmings.
It reminds me of the movie “A Christmas Story.” Ralphie’s mom was cooking the Christmas Day turkey and dogs ended up destroying it. They went to the only place in town that was open — the local Chinese restaurant. The staff served them an entire duck and sang carols off tune.
If you are looking to start a new tradition or recreate your own Thanksgiving or Christmas day dinner, then you’re in luck, because Ming Dynasty can help you recreate this meal with a full Peking duck.
Ming Dynasty has been in business for over 35 years and is located at the Rivergate Shopping Center off of 10th Street beside Ollie’s. They specialize in Mandarin, Schezwan and Cantonese dishes. Owner, Mary Yuen along with chef de cuisine Steven Zhou and a courteous staff always ensure you have a memorable experience.
The menu features traditional appetizers like spring rolls, fried rice options, lo mein noodles, beef, pork, chicken, seafood, hibachi items as well as a variety of chow mein and egg foo young dishes. So let’s get this holiday dinner party started.
Before we talk about the duck, let me tell you how the tradition of Peking duck started. The origins date back to the Ming Dynasty, hence the name of the restaurant. This dynasty was in existence about 600 years ago.
Cooks and chefs from all over the land traveled from their home towns to Beijing, China, to cook for the emperor. One of those kitchens and cooks presented the emperor with a Peking duck, which is a complete 5-6 pound duck that has been slow roasted, seasoned with complete trimmings. The Peking duck is prized and popular for its thin, crispy skin.
A few to things to note: It does have a long cooking time of over an hour, so you will want to call ahead, preferably a day or two in advance during the holidays to first make sure they have them in stock, and be prepared to wait for a little while for the beautiful dish to slowly roast. This gives you the opportunity to spend time with family, sample appetizers and enjoy a bowl of warming egg drop or wonton soup. It’s worth the wait.
The Peking duck is a show-stopper and exquisitely presented with the wings and arms facing up in the center and the thinly sliced meat fanned around the plate. It is paired with sliced spring onions, sliced orange garnish and a dark, rich plum dipping sauce made with hoisin and other spices.
It’s also served with house pancakes that are warm and tucked neatly inside a topped chaffing dish. You can’t help but feel fancy when food is served on a tray with a top. The way to eat the duck is to place a few slices in the pancake, add a few spring onions, some plum sauce and roll it up.
The slow roasting of the duck yields a tender, juicy inner meat that is dark colored and almost melts in your mouth. Duck is not gamey and does not taste like chicken. It has its own nuances and flavor profile that lends itself to turkey, with it’s mellow yet satisfying taste and the crispy crust is divine! I love to add a bit of the sliced orange inside my pancake for a tang of citrus. The flavors build upon each other from the tangy sauce and rich, savory meat to a bright hit of onion.
To make this a true feast, make sure to pair it with one of the fried rice dishes, such as the decadent shrimp fried rice, and a beautiful and healthy assortment of grilled and lightly sauced vegetables including tender mushrooms, Napa cabbage, sweet carrots and snow pea pods, onions, broccoli and zucchini.
This meal was so much fun to eat and to write about, it brought me right back to my family memories. That is the power of food. It feeds your body and soul and Ming Dynasty can help you create new memories anytime of year.
Ming Dynasty offers take-out service daily, a full service bar, as well as dine-in lunch and dinner service. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m Monday-Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Dinner hours are 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, or to place your to-go order, call 752-7111. You can also view their entire menu on their website, www.mingdynastygreenville.com.