DUCK: Rub the outside and inside cavity of the duck generously with salt. Set the duck on a rack on top of a deep roasting pan, making sure that air can circulate underneath. Set aside in a cool, airy place to cure for 4 hours.
Bring several inches of water to a boil in a 16-inch wok or wide, deep roasting pan fitted with a rack 1 inch above water level. Place the duck breast-side up on the rack. Cover the pot and steam over high heat, adding more boiling water if necessary, until the skin becomes taut and starts to pull away from the joints on the drumsticks, 50-60 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and brush the skin with soy sauce or good-quality balsamic vinegar. The duck can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 1 day.
Bring to room temperature before roasting. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the duck on a rack inside a roasting pan. Roast until the skin is crisp and quite brown, 35-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 10-20 minutes before carving. Makes 3-4 servings. Serve with a tartly flavored fruit sauce.
VARIATION: Combine first four variation ingredients and rub half the mixture over the outside and inside cavity of the duck. Set aside the remaining half of the seasonings. Place fresh thyme sprigs in the cavity along with a cut lemon. Cure, steam and roast the duck according to the directions in the main recipe, brushing the skin with balsamic vinegar instead of soy sauce.
The variation method is very good served with blueberry, cranberry or cherry sauce.