Weekend dinner ideas: Feast on fried chicken bao

Posted by
Jenny Tregoning
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It’s the ultimate weekend dilemma (or any night of the week for that matter): what should I eat for dinner? 

Street food is always high on our list when it comes to weekend feasting. With tempting plates from Peru to Penang, and everywhere in-between, on offer at food markets (or just the click of a button away), we tend to steer clear of attempting to make any of these tasty but often complicated dishes at home.

But after happening upon this tasty - and super easy - bao recipe, we realised that perhaps street food-style snacks weren’t so out of our reach after all. And therefore, not out of yours, either.

Think crispy fried chicken stuffed inside pillowy-soft, steamed bao and zingy veggies, all courtesy of Hong Kong Food City, the new street food cook book by Tony Tan (RRP £20, Murdoch Books).

This street food recipe is enough to make 10 portions of bao, so you’re all set for your next dinner party. Enjoy!

Crispy Chicken Bao Recipe

Serves: 10 individual baos, 4 portions (depending on how hungry you are)

Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus overnight refrigeration and 2 hours’ proving time

Cooking time: 20 minutes


For the pickled carrot:

  • 250ml white rice vinegar
  • 125ml water
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g carrots, julienned

For the marinade:

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp Chinese five-spice
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp cornflour

    For the filling:

    • 500g boned chicken thighs, cut into 5cm strips
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 300g plain flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
    • Oil, for deep-frying
    • 1 large handful basil
    • 1 large handful coriander

    For the bao dough:

    • 30g caster sugar
    • 125ml lukewarm water
    • ¾ tsp dried yeast
    • 215g cake flour
    • 1½ tsps baking powder
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
    • ¼ tsp rice vinegar

    For the Sichuan mayonnaise:

    • 1 tbsp Sichuan pepper oil
    • 200ml mayonnaise


    Step 1: To make the pickled carrot, simmer the vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely, then add the carrots and refrigerate overnight.

    Step 2: Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    Step 3: To make the dough, dissolve the sugar in the water, stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes until foamy. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the yeast mixture, oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt, then stir until well combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 8–10 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.

    Step 4: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a draught-free place until doubled in size (1–2 hours).

    Step 5: Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a cylinder and cut into 10 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with flour and roll each into a 15cm oval. Brush with oil, fold in half and press gently. Place on squares of baking paper and leave to prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Steam the buns in batches in a steamer until puffed (8–10 minutes).

    Step 6: Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the Sichuan mayonnaise and set aside. For the filling, combine the beaten eggs and 125ml water in a bowl. Place the seasoned flour in a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in the eggwash, then the flour, shaking off the excess.

    Step 7: Heat oil in a deep-fryer or wok to 180°C, or until a piece of bread browns in 10 seconds, and deep-fry the chicken in batches until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. When all the chicken is done, deep-fry the basil for a couple of seconds until crisp. Drain on paper towel.

    Step 8: To serve, stuff the chicken pieces into the split bao with carrots, fried basil and coriander, and top with mayonnaise.

    Recipe from Hong Kong Food City by Tony Tan (£20, Murdoch Books)

    View more recipes from Stylist here.

    Image: Hong Kong Food City by Tony Tan, Murdoch Books


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    Jenny Tregoning

    Jenny Tregoning is deputy production editor and food editor at Stylist, where she combines her love of grammar with lusting over images of food

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