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  • Writer's pictureChef Dylan

CRISPY CHICKEN BAO




These sumptuously steamed cloud-like bao buns with perfectly crispy chicken, fresh crunch and a drizzle of umami are perfect when entertaining.

These hand held morsels come as a flat steamed bread, folded and filled, which makes them perfect for lunch or a casual dinner to get the party started, as they can be eaten easily standing up. I can say with conviction that they whet the appetite superbly. A word of warning though: these are incredibly more-ish which means you will definitely have to exercise some control over how many you devour.


Did you know? Bao originate from Chinese cuisine. These slightly funny shaped buns are said to have originated in Northern China during the Three Kingdom Period in 220 to 280 AD. According to legend, one day a Chinese General needed to lead his small army across a bridge above a raging river. In order for safe passage across, the people on the other side of the river demanded that he sever the heads of fifty of his men. Being a shrewd General, he thought the villagers may just be extremely hangry so instead, the General decided to have his cook make 50 large meat-filled balls of dough as a replacement. And for reasons unknown to the history book that seemed to satisfy the head-hungry hordes so the General and his army went on their merry way unscathed.


Chef Dylan tip: I highly recommend having a go at making the bao dough yourself from scratch, but for your first go I would suggest heading to the freezer section at your local Asian market or even the supermarket, as I’ve found these are exceptionally good and very reasonably priced. Indeed, pre-made bao are very convenient, as they simply need to be steamed from frozen for ~8 minutes .


Edinburgh Scotland, June 2022

“I just have to take you guys to the new bao place that’s opened just around the corner” says Carey, our long-time restaurateur friend. My eyes light up: “I love Bao” I reply gleefully. “Let’s quickly stop by the apartment so David can join us” she says. Arriving outside the apartment the girls go upstairs to freshen up and get David, and I decide to wait downstairs on the street. I look up and notice a small plaque that reads ‘Ice house’ and ponder back to a time when food and other goods would have been stored in this way before modern forms of refrigeration.


In a matter of moments, we are soon all walking towards the restaurant. It’s 6pm and the sun is still high in the sky, there is debris in the middle of the road, as they’re ripping them up because of a new tram line being constructed to connect Leith up to Central Edinburgh. I turn to ask David, “What is that plaque that says ‘Ice house’ on your flat about mate?”. “Well," he begins with his thick Scottish accent, “The original Ice house was made of thick cut granite built in the Victorian era to store ice for all the herring caught just offshore. The building was right on the harbour in those days, which now has retreated about 300 metres”.


“We’re here” says Carey. I glance over and see a large sign plastered to the freshly painted grey wall that says: Bundits. We take a seat at one of the tables outside on the pavement and a cheerful blond girl from Poland heads over and hands us some menus. “I’ll be back in a sec to grab your drink orders” she quips, turning back and heading inside the restaurant. The place is buzzing, and has a street food kind of feel, I look down at the menu and see ‘Steamed Hirata buns are made from scratch every day in our kitchen’, which I take to be an excellent sign of an establishment serious about its good food, a specialty cuisine no less.


“Shall we share a bottle of rosé?” asks Carey. “Sounds perfect” we nod in agreement. “The Korean braised rib bao is exceptional” chirps in David: “I suggest we order 2 bao each as they are quite large, and a couple of sides should do it”. When the rosé has been poured, I raise a toast and say, “To meeting up with long lost friends and to creating more epic memories for years to come!” “Here, here!” says David smiling as all our glasses clink. The crisp rosé goes down a treat and I’m eager for what appetising food is to come.


PREP TIME: 10mins

COOKING TIME: 10 mins

SERVINGS: 2-4


INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g boneless chicken thighs, cut into 5 cm (2 inch) strips

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 2 cups plain flour

  • 2 tablespoons LUCK DRAGON Asian sauce

  • 1/2 fancy lettuce mix

  • 1 carrot, shredded

  • 1 cup oil for shallow frying

  • Japanese kewpie mayonnaise

  • coriander, to garnish

  • sesame seed mix, to garnish

FOR MARINADE

  • 2 tbs LUCK DRAGON Asian sauce

  • 1 tbs CREOLE

  • 1 tbs corn flour

METHOD

  1. 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).

  2. Place the plain flour in a shallow bowl.

  3. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash, then the flour, shaking off the excess and place onto a plate.

  4. Heat a large fry pan on high and add the oil then cook the chicken in batches on medium heat until they are nice and golden and crispy on both sides ~4 mins each side.

  5. Steam the buns as per packet directions.

  6. Unfold the buns then place some lettuce in between, top with crispy chicken and a squeeze of mayo.

TO SERVE


Garnish with coriander and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Finish with a drizzle of my Luck Dragon Asian sauce.

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