Wild Duck Bao Buns

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This Chinese inspired shredded duck recipe can be as simple or as in-depth as you’d like. Depending on how much time you have this dish can work as an easy midweek meal with tortillas, or it can be a fun couple of hours in the kitchen getting a little bit messy and trying something different with the bao buns. Either way, the simple but aromatic Asian flavors that explode from this dish will have you craving even more time at the duck blind stockpiling provisions.

If you’re making the bao buns, which I highly recommend doing at least once, you’ll want to start a little ahead of time to allow the dough to rise. You’ll also need a large bamboo steamer basket, which can be found at most Asian supermarkets. If not, you can use small flour tortillas as a substitute and skip ahead to the duck prep in step 5.

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Prep Time: 2 hrs.

Cook Time: 10 min.

Serves: 2-3
Makes 12+ Buns

Ingredients:
Duck
2 Duck Legs
2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
Freshly Ground Sea Salt
Hoisin Sauce
1/2 Cucumber, Cut into Matchsticks
4 Green Onions, Cut into Matchsticks
Small Flour Tortillas (If not making Bao Buns)

Bao Buns
1/3 cup Warm Water
1/2 cup Warm Milk
1 tbsp Dry Yeast
4 tbsp Sugar – Divided in Half
2 tbsp Canola Oil
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Preparation

  1. For the bao buns. In a Pyrex container, combine the warm water, warm milk, yeast, oil and half of the sugar. Whisk to let yeast and sugar dissolve then let sit until yeast activates, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, slowing incorporating all the ingredients together. Knead the mixture with your hands for 3-4 minutes. The dough should be elastic and soft but not stick to your fingers.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it becomes triple size, about 1-3/4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven or pellet grill to 325F.
  6. Score the skin on the duck legs, being careful not to cut the meat itself. Rub in the Chinese five spice, then place the legs, skin side up, on a seasoned cast iron skillet or foil lined baking tray. Grind a bit of salt over top and throw it in the oven for 90 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, prepare the vegetables. Matchstick the cucumber and green onion and set aside. If you are NOT making the bao buns, you can leapfrog to step 11.
  8. Once the bao has risen, place it on a flat working surface and roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick. (Flour is not necessary). Cut the dough into 3-1/2-inch circles with a glass or a Mason jar ring.
  9. Using a turkey baster, carefully remove some of the rendered duck fat from the tray in the oven where the legs are cooking and gently empty it into a small bowl. Lightly brush the duck fat onto one side of the baos, then fold them in half (brushed side in) to form a half moon shape. Gently press down on each bao and place into a parchment lined bamboo steaming tray.
  10. Pour water into a shallow frying pan or wok and bring to a boil. Carefully place the steamer basket with the bao buns over top of the pan and steam for for 10 minutes. Once cooked, crack the lid on the steamer and remove the basket from the heat.
  11. Remove the duck from the oven, let rest for a couple of minutes, then shred the meat off the bone using a pair of forks.
  12. Load some shredded duck onto your freshly steamed bao buns or warm tortillas, drizzle with Hoisin sauce, add the cucumber and green onion, then fold up or roll up and enjoy!

Trevor McDavid

I live in rural Southern Alberta, where the edge of the prairie meets the foot of Canada’s awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains. I grew up here, and after a quite a few years spent abroad, I eventually made my way back to my roots to realign myself with the community that raised me.

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