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