Recently my 老公 decided that he doesn't want to eat 'red meat'. Red meat like beef and pork. Makes dinner kinda crazy sometimes cuz we have to cook his stuff and the regular stuff for us (he insists a growing girl, meaning my little girl not me LOL, needs her red meat.) Teensie tiny eyeroll...I mean proteins are proteins, wherever they're from, amirite? But I digress.
Actually this limitation has challenged us in directions we probably wouldn't usually consider. Like these Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns. I myself grew up eating my grandma's Steamed Pork and Veggie Buns. For quite a period of time it was my breakfast and after school meal. This skinny little growing Chinese girl could gobble up 3 to 4 buns in one go!
I wanted my family to enjoy the same kind of bun fun so I decided to make these chicken buns so that everyone in our little family could enjoy them. In the process I discovered that these Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns 雞包仔, with its juicily delicious, tenderly aromatic infused chicken pieces wrapped inside a soft pillowy bread is actually super yummilicious as well as quite easy to make!
There is nothing quite like a steaming basket full of buns. Oh, the delectable smells wafting on a plume of steam towards you from a just opened steamer basket! The hawkers in China know the power of the bun and have huge baskets full of steaming buns to greet the morning crowd as they go to work. A hot bun in the hand builds up fortitude for the coming day.
|Aromatics: cilantro, ginger, spring onion
|Chicken cut to cubes
Before I begin here I have to confess that I forgot an essential for this bun filling when I made it this time. Dried shitake mushrooms! (Slaps forhead!) Duh! How could I forget!! Chicken and mushroom, a match made in food heaven. Well just imagine that it's there okay... thanks much.
A word first on the chicken. I like to keep the dice big so that I can bite into luscious tender pieces of fragrant meat. For the type of meat we like to mix both white and dark meat but that's up to your preference.
Onto the aromatics. The fantastic thing about this chicken bun is that it is all about the chicken! Besides the chicken there is only aromatics that enhance the chicken, namely ginger, cilantro, spring onion and, ahem, dried shitake mushroom. These are all supporting players meant to make the chicken look and taste finger lickin good...
Tip: Mind that you slice the ginger into very thin matchsticks. If thin enough the ginger is a pleasant part of the eating experience. Too thick and you're biting into something not only concentratedly spicy but also a bit fibrous. Try young ginger for less fibers. Spend the time to slice ginger thin enough and it's a lovely boost to the chicken flavor.
See what I mean, how yummilicious does that look?! Diced chicken marinating with chopped cilantro and spring onion, fresh ginger matchsticks and, ahem, sliced mushrooms. It's alot of aromatics, tis true, but I think in this case don't question it, try it, I promise it really works!!
The dough for this is the same dough for all our Chinese buns, from the Mantou to the Silver Thread Bun to the Cha Siu Bao Roasted Pork Bun. Light, fluffy, slightly sweet, it's an all purpose kinda dough for chinese buns. Check out our recipe for this Basic Chinese Dough at our Chinese Steamed Buns Mantou Recipe 饅頭. Psst: Mantou dough and Chinese basic dough are one and the same!
The dough rounds are rolled out and a scoop of aromatic chicken filling is placed in the middle.
Time to wrap! When wrapping remember to keep your wrapping fingers free of the filling. If you get filling on your hands it will get onto the dough wrapper and the pleats won't stick together. To see a more detailed explanation of how to pleat the dough please check out our post Chinese Cha Siu Bao recipe.
Wrapped and ready to steam! Notice that some of the wrapped buns have a wee hole in the middle. This is okay to have or not. If there is a hole it allows for the chicken filling to bubble and cook away, kind of like a steam hole for a pot. But I'm not so expert in my wrapping yet and so some have holes and some don't. :( But it doesn't really matter whether or no.
The best thing about steaming buns and also about baking is the rise. It's always a lovely surprise and delight to see how much your raw bit of dough or mix or cookie has grown and developed into something yummilicious. With steaming there is also the mysterious plume of aromatic steam that envelopes you and your just steamed buns as you lift up the steamer lid.
Ah, that hits the spot! These easy to make buns are really quite delicious. It's a simple but classic bun filling that is perfect just the way it has been and always will be. Try for yourself the magic of these traditional style Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns 雞包仔!
Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns Recipe
(makes 24 buns) Preparation time: 30 mins Cooking time: 15 mins
3 portions of Basic Chinese Dough (just triple the recipe)
1 lb chicken meat, 450g
3 dried large shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp spring onion, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, cut to very thin matchsticks
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornstarch
Soak dried mushrooms in hot water to cover until soft enough to slice, around 2 hours. Cut off stem and discard. Slice either to matchsticks or a rough mince.
Prepare dough according to our Basic Chinese Dough recipe (x3) through the first rise. On lightly floured surface punch dough down, roll into a log and cut into 24 equal parts. Form each piece of dough into a round shape. Let dough rest covered with plastic bag to keep from drying out.
Wash and spin dry cilantro and spring onion. Chop cilantro roughly. Slice spring onion to rounds. Peel and slice ginger into very thin 1 1/2 inch long matchsticks
Dice chicken to 1/2 inch pieces. Add in cilantro, spring onion, ginger, mushrooms, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, sugar, sesame oil and rice wine and let marinate for 15 mins. Mix water with cornstarch and mix into marinated chicken.
Line steamer with kitchen paper. Lightly flour the table and take a round of dough and roll out to a 3 inch circle. Scoop 1 rounded tbsp of filling onto the dough. Pleat the edges of circle, pressing firmly until the entire circle pleated and dough is wrapped around the filling. (For more detail on pleating a bun check out our detailed instructions in our post for Chinese Cha Siu Bao Roasted Pork Buns 叉燒包.) Place into steamer basket (off heat) 1/2 inch apart and let rise for 10 mins. Steam over high heat for 15 mins. Eat hot and tasty or freeze and resteam from frozen to enjoy later. Happy Buns!