I've been meaning to make steamed chicken baozi for a while, now- there are lots of recipes out there for char siu bao, but not many chicken versions like the ones sold by the stalls in Chinatown. I think I nailed it.
Clearly I still need to work on my shaping skills- these are far off the neat flower-like pleats created by people who have been doing this for years. But I've not been doing this for years. In fact, this is only the second time I've tried making baozi, the last time being a couple of weeks ago.
I was quite happy with my first attempt, but I thought I made the bun itself too thin. This time round I increased the bun dough quantity while decreasing the amount of filling I packed into each a little, and they were perfect. This means that there is some raw filling left over, but you can freeze it and use at a later date- either making more steamed buns or experimenting with other things.
Remember, you're making bread here, so leave some time in advance to proof the dough before you want to eat your baozi.
Makes 4 large baozi with leftover filling.
Ingredients for Bao Dough:
-150g plain flour
-1tsp instant (fast action) yeast
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1tbsp icing sugar
-1/2 tbsp sesame oil
-100ml warm chicken stock
-pinch of salt
Ingredients for Filling:
-280-300g chicken thigh meat, minced in food processor or finely chopped
-Handful of shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
-50g cooked (steamed or boiled then dried off) cabbage, roughly chopped
-100g water chestnuts, roughly chopped
-3 spring onions, finely chopped
-2 anchovies, very finely chopped
-2cm cube ginger, very finely chopped
-1 small clove garlic, very finely chopped
-1tbsp soy sauce
-1tsp Chinese cooking wine
1) Start by making the bao dough: mix the dough ingredients together in a bowl, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 10mins (time it! It'll feel like a long time doing it by hand, but don't cheat on the kneading time- you need to get that gluten all nice and springy)
2) Once your dough is smooth and springy, shape it into a ball, put it back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm- now leave it somewhere warm until it doubles in size. I put mine in my airing cupboard since the rest of the house was a little cold, and it took 45 minutes
3) While your dough is proofing, prepare the filling. Once everything is chopped and minced, either stir it all together by hand or give it a few pulses in your food processor (but not too many, you want texture- which is why you also need to chop everything separately rather than bunging everything in the processor in one go). Refrigerate until your dough has doubled in size and you're ready to use
4) Once you're dough is proofed, remove the clingfilm and knead it a little to shrink it back down. Take the dough out and split it into four parts, rolling each into a ball, and cover with clingfilm on the counter to rest for 10mins
5) Once the dough is rested, roll each out into a large circle (rolling the edges a little more thinly), fill with a generous tablespoonful of filling, and pinch in the sides of the dough circle until it meets in the middle, twisting to seal.
6) Place each bun on a large square of baking parchment
7) Now you need to give the buns a mini-proof in the steamer before cooking. Place them in the steamer, and switch the heat on until the water just begins to simmer, and switch off the heat. Leave the buns for another five minutes in the warm steamer to increase in size by about an extra half.
8) Now that the dough has proofed for the final time, switch the heat back on, bring the water to boiling point, and lower the heat so the water comes to a simmer.
9) Cook in the steamer for 20 minutes
10) Turn off the heat, take out a baozi and enjoy! Oh, and watch out for those last few bites where the juices collect at the bottom of the bun (if you've ever had one of these from a street stall and forgotten to take a napkin, you'll know what I'm talking about).