Classic Chinese Bao buns with crispy fried chicken – the ultimate showstopper! No, am not reading from a restaurant’s menu card but sharing my fail-proof recipe of this stunner called bao buns with crispy chicken!
Since the time I discovered this beautiful looking thing called bao buns, I am simply in awe of it! After much contemplation, I decided to try my hands on making these at home. I will be honest! I wasn’t sure at the beginning if I will be able to pull it off!
Good news! The bao buns came out perfect in every batch and not only my better half but also my friends would vouch for that! Guess what? I even have a better news for you! You too can make perfect bao buns from the very first time!
Trust me on this! Making steamed bao buns at home requires only one major ingredient which only you can contribute and that is nothing but patience! Handle it with care, allow enough resting time and voila!
Yes, these delicate bao buns demand gentle love & care! If you promise me to shower them with the affection they deserve, I promise you that you will churn out perfectly steamed pillowy soft bao buns every time! This recipe of bao buns is absolutely fail-proof and I can guarantee that!
I got to know that these bao buns are also called Taiwanese burgers in some parts of the world. It’s gaining much popularity in recent times; hence there couldn’t have been a better time than this to try making these beauties at home and perfect the recipe so that I can share with you all!
I don’t align with the comparison of bao buns with burgers. I agree that both are breads filled with meat, but bao buns have won my heart in many ways which burgers could not. I will chose bao buns over burgers any given day and you will know why once you try this on your own!
The texture of bao buns is very light & fluffy which makes it so comfortable to eat and it pairs up beautifully with any kind of meat – be it juicy grilled chicken or a crispy fried one! This time I served it with super crispy chicken and we both loved it so much that I made it back to back 2 days in a row!
I’m sure these bao buns will keep reappearing on our dinner table frequently and I will have ample opportunities to make many more varieties of filling soon enough! My immediate next target is definitely grilled chicken with tzatziki sauce! Stay tuned!
Today’s post is mainly to focus on how to perfect the bao buns and make sure each batch is perfectly steamed without being raw inside. Let me share some of my tips & tricks which I applied in order to ensure thoroughly cooked, but not over-cooked, bao buns every time!
The secret ingredient to give your bao buns the impeccable softness!
These bao buns are nothing but breads made of flour, yeast, oil & water! But there is one secret ingredient which will make your bao buns extra special and that is milk powder! Surprised? I was too! This tips comes from my favorite YouTuber Marion from Marion’s Kitchen and she is absolutely right!
Do not skip adding this secret ingredient i.e. milk powder to your flour before you start kneading the dough. It will not only add softness but also infuse a mellowed sweetness to the bao buns. It’s not a lot of volume, but sometimes such small quantities go a long way to create its magic!
How to ensure the bao buns open up after steamed?
This is an important feature of bao buns! You need to make sure your buns open up after being cooked so that you can fill it up with your desired stuffing. After rolling out the dough, rub the entire top surface with any flavorless oil. This will be the inside of the fold and the oil will prevent it from sticking. You can use a brush to do this using very light strokes.
How to ensure the smoothness on top of bao buns?
Once you have rolled out the dough and cut the roundels out, fold each in half. Then use your rolling pin to gently push down and roll over the top of each half-circle shaped buns. This will help to give us the smooth texture on top of the bao buns. Make sure to be very gentle so that you don’t knock out all the air pockets.
If you follow the above tips and be patient while making your bao buns by giving them enough proofing time as directed in the recipe instructions below, then nothing can stop you from uncovering the flawless batch of bao buns every time you open the steamer!
If you have your bao buns perfectly done, making crispy fried chicken is a child’s play! Just follow the instruction below and you are ready to rock your dinner table with the stunning baos filled with golden fried chicken, drizzled with spicy mayo and tossed with vibrant green cilantro! Enjoy!
- All-purpose flour – 360 gms
- Milk powder – 20 gms
- Baking powder – 1 tsp / 4 gm
- Active dry yeast – 1 & ¾ tsp
- White sugar – 3 tbsp
- Vegetable oil – 2.5 tbsp (plus extra for greasing the dough)
- Water – 200 gms
- 20 squares of baking paper (about 10x10cm)
- Chicken thighs – 4, boneless & skinless
- Sriracha sauce – ¾ cup + ½ cup
- Chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Garlic powder – 1 tsp
- Paprika – 2 tsp
- All-purpose flour – 2 cups or more
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Sea salt to taste
- Mayonnaise – ½ cup
- Sliced red onion to serve
- Fresh cilantro to serve
- Make about 15 to 20 squares of baking paper of size 10x10 cm. These will be required while steaming the bao buns.
- Take the water in a glass or bowl and warm it up to 100 F. The water should feel just hot when touched. If it feels too hot, wait till it cools down a bit. Best way to achieve the optimum temperature is to use a thermometer; ensure the temperature is not more than 105 F as anything more than that will kill the yeast.
- Add sugar to the warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top of water and give a gentle mix using a fork or spoon. Let the water stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until the top of the water becomes frothy. Your yeast is now activated.
- In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder and milk powder. Mix the dry ingredients well with a wire whisk.
- Now make a well at the center of the bowl of dry ingredients and pour in the liquids – yeast-water mixture & vegetable oil. Start mixing the dough using the wooden spoon until the water is almost absorbed by the flour.
- Now tip in the flour on a lightly floured work surface and start kneading with hand. Continue kneading the dough until it is smooth and stops sticking to your hand, about 10 minutes. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover and rest in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- After about 90 minutes, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes in order to remove as many air bubbles as possible.
- Now roll the dough out to 1-cm thickness using a rolling pin to. Dip a basting brush in vegetable oil and lightly brush the oil over the top surface of the dough. Then use an 8-cm diameter pastry cutter (or a glass of the same diameter) to cut out rounds. Remove the excess dough from around the edges and reuse them similarly.
- Now take one round at a time and fold it in half; you can use a chopstick placing it over the diameter of the round and fold one side over the chopstick, then carefully take it out. Chopstick will also help retain the desired gap around the fold. Now flatten the folded half-circle slightly around the round edge with the rolling pin. Your bao bun is shaped and ready for second proofing.
- Place each shaped bao on a square of baking paper. Cover them and set aside to prove for 30 minutes.
- Fill a sauce pan with water until one-third full and place over high heat and let the water come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, take each shaped bao along with the baking paper square and place it on a bamboo or stainless steel steamer. If your steaming vessel is not too big, then steam your baos in batches and do not over crowd the pan. I could do 4 at a time in my stainless steel steamer.
- When the water is boiling, place the steamer over the saucepan and cover it with a tight-fitting lid. Steam the buns for 12 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow the buns to rest over the hot water for 5 more minutes with the lid on.
- Then take them out carefully (beware, they are still very hot!) by pulling them out using the baking paper. Your bao buns are ready for any filling of your choice!
- Make sriracha mayonnaise by whisking mayonnaise and ½ cup of sriracha sauce in a small bowl until evenly mixed. Set it aside.
- Take the chicken, remaining Sriracha sauce, chilli powder, garlic powder and paprika in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. Set aside to marinate overnight or at least 10 minutes.
- To prepare the chicken for deep-frying, place the all-purpose flour in a large bowl or tray. Transfer the chicken and the marinade into the flour. Mix and push the chicken into the flour so that the flour sticks to the outside of the chicken to form somewhat thick coating.
- Fill a saucepan or wok with enough vegetable oil for deep frying and heat it up over high heat. Once the oil is hot, reduce the flame to medium.
- Now add the coated chicken pieces to the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remember not to overcrowd the pan, fry the chicken in batches if needed.
- Take the fried chicken out of the pan and place on paper towel to let it absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with sea salt when the chicken is hot. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
- To serve, cut chicken pieces into smaller chunks so that they easily fit into the bao buns. Open up each bao bun and spread sriracha mayonnaise at the base. Top it with the fried chicken pieces. Drizzle with more sriracha mayo and top it with sliced red onion & cilantro. Enjoy your restaurant quality bao buns with spicy fried chicken at home!