China Town Duck Shanks

When I first saw the words duck and shank together I thought it must be a mistake or a joke. After all isn’t a shank part of the leg of a four-legged creature?I was thinking lamb. But, no. A shank is the part of the leg of any vertebrate.

Anyway, lucky for me I live but 20 minutes from Australia’s largest free-range duck farm. This means lots of whole ducks, livers, marylands and shanks.

Serves 4


  • 12 duck shanks
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 drops cochineal (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced on an angle
  • Chinese barbecue sauce (char siu), to serve


Put the duck shanks into a dish with the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, star anise and cochineal, if using, tossing the shanks around in the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the duck every now and then.

Remove the duck from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat the barbecue hotplate and grill to

medium and close the lid to create a hot-oven effect.

Remove the duck from the marinade. Sit the duck on a rack and sit the rack over a deep baking tray. Half fi ll the baking tray with water and sit on the barbecue, close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the duck shanks over and cook for another 30 minutes, or until golden. Brush the honey over the shanks and cook for another 10 minutes, turning the shanks and brushing each side with the honey until glistening and crisp.

Arrange the shanks on a serving platter and scatter over the spring onion. Serve with the Chinese barbecue sauce on the side.

Recipe and image from Weekend BBQ by Ross Dobson, published by Murdoch Books.

Weekend BBQ by Ross Dobson

Ross Dobson is an iconic Australian food writer.

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