Bao, otherwise known as ‘baozi’, are soft and fluffy steamed buns that are incredibly delicious and easy to make. The usual filling is glazed pork belly but you can fill them with whatever you like. You will need a bamboo steamer but nowadays you can get these in almost every Asian food shop. Bao buns are the perfect snack for when friends are coming over or for quick TV snacks.
If you prefer something easy and quick for dinner, you can make a large batch and freeze most of them for later on. To do that, steam all of the Bao buns and then freeze them. To reheat, pop them into the steamer for about 5 to 8 minutes until they are hot in the middle. When you steam them, place some parchment paper under the buns so they don’t stick to the steamer.
For the bao buns
- 60 g caster sugar
- 250 ml lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tbs dried yeast
- 430 g flour 00
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
Ingredients for the crispy chicken
- 2 de-boned chicken breasts
- 2-3 eggs
- oil, for deep-frying
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 large handful coriander
- 200 g julienned carrots
- Sichuan mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp lime zest
Make the dough & first rise:
- Dissolve sugar in the lukewarm water. Stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Add yeast mix, vinegar, oil and a pinch of salt. Mix until well combined.
- Kneed for another 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside until doubled in size. (for about 2 hours)
Shape the buns and second rise:
- Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and punch it down. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. Use a drinking glass or something else to cut out 3-inch circles of dough. Brush the tops with some oil and fold each piece of dough in half, pressing it down just lightly.
- Transfer to a baking tray, cover with a lean tea towel and leave to prove for another hour.
- In a shallow plate, combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Beat the egg in another shallow plate. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow plate.
- Cut the chicken breast into small pieces. Dredge the chicken in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in panko, pressing to coat.
- Place the coated chicken bites into hot oil and deep-fry until golden and crisp. Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
Steam the buns & filling
- Heat a large steamer over a medium-high heat. Steam the buns for about 8 minutes until puffed up. To serve, stuff the chicken pieces into the bao buns with carrots, coriander and top with mayonnaise. Sprinkle with some lime zest.