Spice up your weekend with my addictively tangy Asian-inspired roast, presenting an splendid sticky kimchi marinade and a colourful slaw. Load it all up in my fantastically light and fluffy coconut bao for the suitable mouthful. It’s going to get messy

Korean Chicken Bao

INGREDIENTS

Bao Buns:

  • 3 3/4 cups (450g) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp (equivalent to one packet or 7g) instant dried yeast
  • 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 3/4 cup + 2tbsp (210ml altogether) warm water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter very soft
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Chicken and marinade:

  • 4 chicken breasts sliced into bite-size chunks
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt

Crispy Coating:

  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • vegetable oil for deep frying – at least 1 litre/four cups

Korean Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

To Serve:

  • 1 small red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber – chopped into small pieces
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander – cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp black and white sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Start by making the bao buns.
  • Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix together.
  • Add the milk, warm water and butter to a jug and stir together until the butter melts. Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture at first with a spoon, and then with your hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover (with clingfilm or a damp tea toweand leave to prove until doubled in size – about 90 minutes – 2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, start on the Korean Chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl. Add the buttermilk, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Mix together, cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour.
  • After the dough has proved, tip it out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Knead the dough again and split into 20 balls. Place a piece of baking parchment on your work surface and roll each ball into an oval on top of the parchment, using a rolling pin – approx. 6cm x 9cm.
  • Brush the ovals with the olive oil and fold each oval over, using a chopstick in the middle to fold over to leave a little space in the fold (so the oil is on the inside of the fold). Remove the chopstick and place each bun onto a small piece of baking parchment.
  • Place the buns on the trays – still on the the baking parchment – as this will help you to move them later. Cover each tray with clingfilm or a carrier bag (ensuring the clingfilm doesn’t touch the dough – or it will stick) and leave to prove for a further hour, until puffed up.
  • Preheat the oven to a low heat (to keep cooked chicken warm). Heat a large pan of vegetable oil (or preheat your deep fat fryer) until hot (you can test by dropping a small cube of bread in there, if it rises immediately to the top and starts to bubble rapidly, it’s hot enough). You’ll need at least 1 litre (4 cups) of oil.
  • Mix together the crispy coating ingredients in a small bowl. Take the chicken out of the fridge. Lift a piece from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drip off. Dredge the chicken in the crispy coating mixture – ensuring it’s fully covered. Place on a tray and repeat until all of the chicken is coated.
  • Once the oil is hot enough, add in 10-12 of the chicken pieces. You can add more or less depending on the size of your pan, just be sure not to overcrowd the chicken. Cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked in the middle. You can check this by cutting open a piece of chicken, if it’s no longer pink in the middle, it’s cooked.
  • Place on a tray in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest of the chicken.
  • Meanwhile, put a large steamer pan on to boil. Working in batches, place the buns in the steamer (you can keep them on the baking parchment and steam for 10 minutes. I use a double layer steam pan – placing four buns in each layer. Once steamed, place on a warm plate.
  • While the chicken and bao buns are cooking, make the sauce. Place the gochujang, honey, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vegetable oil and sesame oil in a saucepan and stir together.
  • Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
  • Place all of the cooked chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken. Toss together to coat. You can leave the chicken chunks whole, or slice up if you prefer.
  • Carefully open the steamed bao buns and stuff with the Korean chicken. Top with slices of red onion, cucumber, fresh coriander (cilantro) and sesame seeds before serving.

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