While these involve a bit of legwork in the kitchen, it all pays off the moment you bite into the soft and fluffy buns filled with succulent and crunchy fried chicken.
- 500 g strong white flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 x 7 g sachet fast-action yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 145 ml whole milk
- 145 ml tepid water
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- extra vegetable oil, for brushing
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- ½ tbsp chilli oil with shrimp
- ¼ pinch Sichuan pepper, finely ground
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 150 g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 1.2 litres vegetable oil
- 150 ml mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp Sriracha
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Marinating time: 30 minutes
1. To make the dough, place the flour, sugar, fast action yeast and baking powder into a large bowl. Pour in the milk and water and add a pinch of salt. Using a wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the wet and dry ingredients and then use your hands to bring it together to form a dough. Tip onto the counter top and knead by hand for a good 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the worktop. Place into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel or oiled cling film and allow to rest until doubled in size, roughly an hour.
2. In the meantime, prepare the chicken thigh pieces by flattening each one a little with a rolling pin. Place into a bowl along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, chilli oil and ground Sichuan pepper. Place in the fridge to marinate for an hour.
3. Meanwhile, cut out 12 x 10cm squares of non-stick baking paper. Set aside until needed. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock back the dough and then remove from the bowl, divide in half and roll into a fat sausage. Divide the dough equally into six equal portions and then repeat with the other portion of dough. Roll these portions into tight balls. Flatten each ball into neat ovals with a rolling pin about 5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. Lay each one onto a square of greaseproof paper and fold each one over. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
5. In the meantime, mix the mayonnaise and Sriracha together and set aside. Prepare a large two-tiered steamer. Sit it over a wok with simmering water. Place the bao buns into both tiers and steam gently for 30 minutes.
6. Heat the vegetable oil to 180°C. When the oil comes to temperature, add the egg to the chicken marinade and stir well. Add the salt and white pepper into the flour and mix well. Remove each piece of chicken and coat it in the flour on both sides. Shake away any excess flour and gently place each piece into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Cook in 2 batches, remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper.
7. Remove the steamed buns from the steamer, peel open and leave to cool for 2 minutes. Place a spoon of Sriracha mayo into each bun, top with the crispy fried chicken and add a few slices of pickled cucumber to serve.
This recipe is from Donal's Asian Baking Adventures on SBS Food (Channel 33). Stream episodes via SBS On Demand.