Make sure that the water is not too hot or the yeast will become inactive and your buns will not rise. When stuffing buns with savoury meats like duck or pork, be sure to add some coriander for that extra flavour kick. The kumquat-hoisin sauce is a play on the French classic, duck l'orange, which works well with the roast duck buns too.
STEAMED BUNS (makes 8-10)
7g (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
375ml (12 fl oz / 1 1/2 cups) lukewarm water
1 tbsp sugar
500g (1lb 1 1/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 store-bought roast duck, deboned and sliced
Spring onions (scallions) to garnish, cut into thin strips
140g (5 oz) kumquats, cleaned, halved and seeded, with pips reserved in a muslin bag
220g (73/4 oz) caster sugar
1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
300ml (10 fl oz /1 1/4 cups) water
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water and add the sugar. Briefly stir to partially dissolve the sugar and let it stand for 5–10 minutes. If bubbles appear, the yeast is active, so continue with the recipe. If no bubbles appear, repeat with a new packet of yeast.
Put flour in a large bowl and slowly pour in yeast mixture. Using a spatula, mix the liquid and flour until it comes together. Now, use your hands and knead the dough into a ball. It is important to feel the texture of the dough. If it is too dry, add more water and if too wet, add some flour but not too much as it will change the texture of the buns. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Place dough in a big bowl and cover with a cloth. Place in a warm place or under the sun. Leave dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
After the dough has risen, separate into 2 portions for easy handling. Flatten each portion with a rolling pin, then roll the flattened dough using your hands into logs. Divide each log into 4–5 equal pieces. Leave dough to rise further for 20 minutes.
Place buns in a steamer, making sure to leave room for them to expand further. Steam buns over high heat for 15–20 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Prepare sauce. Place kumquats in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to cool, then drain. Do this another 2 times.
Combine sugar, ginger (if using), water and reserved kumquat pips in a saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add kumquats and bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–45 minutes or until fruit is translucent and liquid is syrupy. This sauce can be made ahead and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. For this recipe, spoon out about 4 tbsp of kumquat sauce. Mixed with the hoisin sauce and set aside.
To prepare duck buns, tuck sliced roast duck and spring onions into steamed buns. You can either spread a generous layer of kumquat sauce in the buns or serve the sauce on the side.
From 'Building a Perfect Meal' by Michelle Tchea, published by Marshall Cavendish Cuisine.