My city is under a strict lockdown, as the virus is spreading aggressively across the country. Morning is the only time to get the essential services. The rising number of covid cases is staggering, but epidemiological experts and modelers agree that the true count may be higher than the number of deaths recorded nationwide. The Internet and all social media platforms are filled with distressing scenes of patients dying in ambulances and bodies burning on pyres outside crematoriums and even on the pavements, makes us realize that the tragedy is far greater than what we think.
Last year everybody was stuck at home and looking for some cooking inspiration. Almost everyone I knew had taken to baking and cooking, flaunting their culinary conquests on social media. The fact that some had upgraded themselves from barely making a cup of tea to whipping something decent enough to be presented on the table. People began to realize that it was not difficult to try out many different dishes during lockdown, which they would never have bothered to do if they could have ordered from any eat out. Lockdown changed this perspective towards cooking.
I am more influenced by East Asian cuisine and the lock down gave me ample time to work on stress-free value meals. If you are following me on Facebook, you might have come across many of my posts on Asian steam buns or the Bao buns that are dazzling as this Asian street food classic that’s becoming a global addiction. I have always loved to break down recipes without complications and ease the cooking procedures through all my blog posts. My main aim through each blog post and recipe is to bring uncomplicated recipes for people who are new to cooking. This post is about chicken steamed buns that add up as a great snack, a quick breakfast or an easy help yourself-starter as a quintessential South East Asian food.
The Steamed chicken buns are craveable, sweet light fluffy buns filled with a saucy chicken filling. These steamed buns are called the Mantou. They are extremely versatile that one can stuff them, pan fry them or eat them just plain. Mantou are plain soft steamed buns whereas Bao are filled with duck roast or pork fillings. The secret to these pillowy steamed buns are the double rising and the lovely saucy chicken filling. The saucy chicken is so flavorful and complex, as it comes together easily just by throwing up all the ingredients in a pan along with the chicken. The filling is so versatile that I love to eat it with rice, noodles or do it my personal way of stuffing it into the Bao Buns or as a filling for Mantou. Here I will not claim this recipe to be authentic as I have tweaked it to suit my taste and preference, keeping my favorite trait of making it simple and super delicious.
For the buns
- Plain Flour- 350 grams.
- Active Yeast- 1 and half teaspoon
- Salt – half teaspoon
- Oil- 4 Tablespoons.
- Warm milk- 250 ml
- Sugar- 3 Tablespoons.
For the filling
- Chicken boneless- 250 grams
- Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoon
- Fish Sauce- 1 Tablespoon
- Pepper to taste
- Onion chopped- 1 medium sized
- Bell pepper or Capsicum chopped- 1 medium sized
- Tomato chopped -1 small
- Brown sugar- 1 teaspoon.
- Soy sauce- 2 Tablespoons.
- Tomato sauce- 2 Tablespoons.
- Chili vinegar- 1Tablespoon.
- Ground nut oil- 1 Tablespoon.
- Corn flour – 2 teaspoons. (optional)
To make the buns
Mix yeast and sugar with warm milk. Put flour in a bowl with salt and add the oil. Mix into a rough dough to combine all the ingredients well. Knead the dough well until soft, adding more flour if required. Tip into an oiled bowl, turning the dough until its lightly coated in oil, cover and leave it to rise until doubled in size. (1 hour approx.)
Prepare the filling.
- Cut the chicken into very small pieces or chop them. Marinate the chicken with fish sauce, pepper and ginger garlic paste for 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a wok. Add the marinated chicken and sauté till it turns white. Add in the onion, tomatoes and pepper and continue stirring. Prepare the sauce mix by combining soy sauce, vinegar, tomato sauce, corn flour, oil and sugar. Pour and splash over with the chicken and stir on a high flame, mixing thoroughly for 4 to 5 minutes and set aside to cool.
Assembly and stuffing the bun.
- Finish the buns by dividing them into equal pieces of dough balls. Roll out each piece of dough into a round shape. You can use more flour if it is sticky. Add in a spoonful of the chicken filling into the center of the rolled dough.
- Wet the edges and bring them together to cover up the filling. Pinch the edges well to seal the buns and keep them aside on a piece of baking paper. Repeat with all the dough balls and place each stuffed bun onto a small square of baking paper. Allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
- Put a large steamer over a medium flame and steam the buns for 6-8 minutes or until puffed and cooked through. Do not let the buns touch or they will stick to each other. Serve them hot.
Read on before you start cooking.
- I haven’t added any salt to the filling as the sauce added is enough to taste.
- Corn flour is optional; it will thicken the mix. I preferred to leave it out as I wanted a saucier filling, making the bun absorb the sauce, making it more delicious.
- Always use pieces of baking paper as it will be easier to handle the dough for steaming and to transfer to serving plates, else it will be sticky and messy to handle.
- While steaming, take care not to allow the vapor water to fall on the buns as it could make them soggy. You can drape a kitchen towel onto the lid to avoid this problem.