A recent trip to Japan was the inspiration behind Jen’s latest recipe: Asian steamed buns. These are a fantastic dinner, and perfect as an afternoon beer snack. It is not a quick recipe, so make them for a gathering. They will be in high demand. Marinate the meat the night before to ensure the chicken has maximum flavour.
ASIAN STEAMED BUNS
Prep: 10 mins
Makes: 14 steamed buns (6 serves)
- 400g of plain flour
- ½ tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of caster sugar
- 1 sachet (7g) of dried yeast
- 1 cup (250ml) of warm water
- 20ml / 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- extra vegetable oil for brushing
- 7 chicken thighs (around 1kg)
- ½ cup of char siu sauce (store-bought)
- 4 tablespoons of hoi sin sauce
- 2 lebanese cucumbers, sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1 red chilli, finger sized, finely sliced
- ½ cup of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
- Cut the chicken thighs in half and marinate them in the char siu sauce. Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
- To make the dough, place the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, place the sugar, yeast with the warm water and oil. Stir, and allow to stand to activate the yeast for at least 5 minutes.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the flour bowl and combine into a soft dough.
- Tip it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured bench, and knead for about 10 minutes.
- Return dough to the bowl and cover with clingfilm. Prove for an hour in a warm place in your kitchen (or in your oven at 37ºC) until the dough doubles in size.
- While dough is proving, heat the BBQ or a frying pan and cook the chicken. Once cooked, remove from heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Remove the clingfilm from the bowl, and knock back the dough by punching it to squeeze out the air.
- Place the dough on the bench and divide into 14 equal pieces.
- Cover with a tea towel. Then take each ball into your hand, and fold the edges of the dough into the centre of the ball, and then pinch the centre of the dough to bring the edges together.
- Turn the ball over to get a perfect sphere. Then use a rolling pin to flatten the balls into oval shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the surface of each oval with oil, then fold it over. Using the rolling pin, lightly roll over each folded bun so they don’t pop open when they are steaming.
- Place each bun on a piece of baking (parchment) paper, then place in a bamboo steamer. You will only fit 3–4 buns per steamer basket. If you have several, stack them together to cook at once, and cover the top with the steamer lid.
- Place the steamer baskets over a pot or frying pan/wok of cold water, then let them rest for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat under the pot to high, and when you begin to see steam rising from the top of the bamboo steamer, reduce the stove down to a medium-high temperature and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat off and let the buns rest for 1 minutes, before removing the lid. If you remove the lid too early they deflate, so don’t be tempted to remove the lid too fast.
- Place each of the buns on the table, together with the chicken and bowls of hoi sin, carrot, cucumber, spring onions, chilli and coriander (cilantro) leaves. Allow the guests to assemble to their own taste.
You can always use caramelised pork belly or Chinese duck as your meat in these buns, or a vegetarian version using marinated tofu and Asian coleslaw.