Fried Chicken Bao Sliders

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Hello hello hello! I'm back from a long weekend in the desert! It was full of best friends, a fur cladded pool, lots of sun, and a prickly cactus that got stuck in my shoe. I just downloaded my photos and will work on a little Joshua Tree post to share with you guys soon! I'm back home in chilly San Francisco burrito-ed up in my blanket trying to fend off icky germs from flying. I have 5 more flights to take over the next 2 weeks, so I'll be chugging emergen-c and ginger shots for the near future.

Let me see... what is there to update you on??

1. Reuben and I watched The Office in it's entirety in just 5 weeks. Is that insane or impressive? Both? The Office was something I just never got into before, but now it is my favorite show of all time. It's the most perfect show. It's hilarious, it's offensive, it's real, and it's so incredibly sweet. Gosh. I just tear up thinking about how much Jim and Pam love each other. After we watched the last episode it was weird... like, what is there even to watch now?

2. Reuben got me hooked on the latest season of American Idol. So we quickly found something new to obsesses over. The production value of this season is so impressive! Lionel Richie is such a pleasant person! Plus there are countless touching contestant stories, so I still have something to keep me crying every other day. Not that that is hard.

3. Our apartment is going to be the home to a banjo soon. Our neighbors are going to love us.

4. I'm a confident bao maker now. The first time I ever steamed bao dough it was not good. It was bad. They had a weird flavor and didn't really fluff up. Who knows what happened. But after some practice, I got it down!

These fried chicken sliders were inspired by a recent trip to Chick-Fil-A (lol) and a fancy dinner at Liholiho Yacht Club. Just like The Office, I never really got into the hype of Chick-Fil-A. But there is one right by one of my projects, so after some really stressful days it was the perfect eat my feelings pit stop. The bao sliders at Liholiho Yacht Club are filled with grilled beef tongue, peanuts, pickled cucumbers, and some spicy sauce. Their buns are also crusted with poppy seeds, which adds a nice texture but also an awful mess to clean up later. You have been warned that if you go the poppy seed route, you're going to be finding poppy seeds everywhere for the next 3 days. So I guess you could say these sliders are a Chick-Fil-A and Liholiho Yacht Club lovechild!

To make these sliders, you can purchase your own buns at your local asian market or bakery. But I really do love a freshly steamed bun! The buns are super light and fluffy, but have the integrity and structure to support a crispy slice of fried chicken. I highly recommend that you add some kimchi, slice cucumbers, hoisin, and Sriracha for that crunchy, sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy thang. SO GOOD. How do I get in contact with Chick-Fil-A product development reps?!

Have a happy rest of the week! I'll be reporting back after a quick trip to Cleveland and Chicago this weekend : )


Fried Chicken Bao Sliders

makes 12 bao sliders

steamed bao buns:

1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water
pinch of sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
oil for brushing
Poppy Seeds (optional)

fried chicken:

2 large chicken breast cut into
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
dash of paprika
dash of garlic powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
canola oil for frying

kimchi
sliced cucumbers
hoisin sauce
Sriracha
 

to prepare steamed bao dough:

1. Mix yeast, warm water, and pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. You should see a few small bubbles. Whisk in oil and set aside.

2. Combine baking powder, sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or with you hands. Keep stirring until you have a ragged dough. Add a few teaspoons of water if the dough still feels a little dry. Gather your dough into a rough ball on a clean work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

3. Grease a large bowl with a bit of oil. Place dough ball in the bowl and over with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm place (in the oven with the door left ajar) to proof for one hour. Dough should double.

4. Punch down the dough. Place on a clean work surface and shape into 4"x12" log. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Take one piece of dough and roll into a 4"x6" oval. Place oval on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover the tray with a wet kitchen towel and allow to proof again for another 30 minutes. While these proof again, cut out 12 4"x3" sheets of parchment paper

5. Bring a lot pot (that perfectly fits your bamboo steamer) of water to a boil. 

6. Lightly brush each piece of dough with oil. Fold in half. Brush the top with oil and press into a plate of poppy seeds. Place the bun on a sheet of parchment and then place into a bamboo steamer. Repeat with remaining buns.

7. Place the bamboo steamer on top of the pot of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes. Once steamed, remove from the steamer and allow to cool on a wire rack.

to prepare the fried chicken:

1. Marinade the chicken in buttermilk for 30 minutes.

2. Beat eggs in a small bowl and combine flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and baking powder in a shallow dish.

3. Dip slice of chicken in flour, then in the egg, and then back into the flour. Place on a dish and repeat with remaining chicken.

4. Add canola oil into a heavy bottom skillet until hot (350 degrees). Add in chicken and fry for 5 to 7 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining chicken.

to assemble the bao sliders:

1. Place a piece of fried chicken in a bun, smear on hoisin and Sriracha, add a bit of kimchi and sliced cucumbers, and enjoy!

Jasmine Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Boba

Jasmine Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Boba

I have a shorty post for you this week. There is a bit too much life happening and not enough time to fit everything thing at the moment. I'm leaving for LA tomorrow! And then I'll be meeting up with my friends in the desert for best friend Jeff's bachelor party! In between now and my flight to LA I need to pack, do my freaking taxes, make sure Reuben has food for the weekend, get some real work done, and pick up my inflatable pineapple inner tube. Getting the inflatable pineapple and finishing my taxes are obviously top priority. Please send me good luck and lots of thai food.

Gosh, I really need a boba tea. I often think about the day when I won't have the luxury of living a few short minutes away from a great boba tea place. It's going to be tough, but I will be ready! Making your boba tea is actually pretty easy. Plus you feel lot better drinking it knowing what you're actually putting in the tea. The biggest thing for me is being able to control how much sugar I put in my tea. I always order 30% sweet at the tea shops and I find it still plenty sweet. It makes me sort of grossed out thinking about how much sugar 100% sweet is.

Do you have a go to milk tea flavor? For me it's either classic black milk tea, taro, or jasmine! Jasmine is a really light and beautifully floral tea. Perfect for spring. My family always ordered chrysanthemum tea when we went out for dim sum, it has a really similar floral flavor. When I was a kid I would pour myself a little cup of tea, add an entire packet of sugar in the cup, and wait for it to cool throughout the whole meal. Once we finished all our food I would have a cup of chilled and super sweet tea. It was awesome. My brother and my little cousins followed my lead obviously. So I guess you could say I was obsessed with my sweetened tea drinks from the very beginning.


Jasmine Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Boba

makes 2 - 4 milk teas

for jasmine milk tea:

2 jasmine tea bags
2 cups just boiled water
perfered dairy
ice

for brown sugar boba:

1/2 cup dried boba
4 cup water + 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar

1. Prepare your boba first. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add dried boba to the boiling water, cover the pot, and boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep covered, and let the boba sit in the hot water for an additional 3 minutes. Remove boba from water and place in a heat proof jar. 

2. Start making your brown sugar simple syrup by boiling 3/4 cup water. Add in the brown sugar and whisk until dissolved. Remove simple syrup from the heat and allow to slightly cool for 2 minutes. Carefully pour the simple syrup over the boba balls. Allow the balls to soak in the simple syrup for at least 30 minutes.

3. Steep 2 jasmine tea bags in 2 cups of just boiled water for 8 minutes. Discard teabags. Pour 1 cup of tea in a steel shaker with some ice, desired amount of your preferred diary, and a tablespoon of the brown sugar syrup. Give it a quick shake to mix.

4. Pour milk tea over a glass of ice and sweetened boba. Enjoy!

Jasmine Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Boba

Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

Hey hey hey! I’m writing at another ski lodge again. It is equally as distracting as the last ski lodge I wrote at. Except it doesn’t quite smell like sweat, chicken fingers and donuts. I snagged myself a nice sunny table outside. So it smells like clean mountain air and bbq from the bqq tent 15 feet from me. I am surrounded by children bickering over pizza in German, but I’m hoping they leave soon. 

It’s Easter Sunday. Not that that really means anything to me. When my brother and I were little, my family would entertain us with the always fun Easter egg hunt, egg dyeing, and copious amounts of Easter candy. I feel like Easter is the most magical for kids. As my brother and I and our cousins grew older, Easter festivities started to fade. Plus my family is not really religious at all. I think this weekend would just be another weekend that we would all get together for Dim Sum or lunch at my grandparents’ house.

Reuben and I have spent this Easter weekend up in Auburn, California enjoying some nature. He is skiing in Tahoe today (Sunday), which is why I am writing at a ski lodge again. As much as I’ve enjoyed all the beautiful sites and the great food this weekend, I can’t seem to shake the little bit of homesickness I’ve been feeling. Even though Easter is not a big deal for my family and I don’t even think they are getting together this weekend, I still miss the crap out of home. I probably bring up homesickness on this blog all the time. Maybe a little too much… sorry! When you’re the only one from your family that lives far away, you start to get really sappy. Thankfully I’m going home in 3 weeks! Work is taking me to Chicago so I’m going to hop on an extra plane to get my family fix. I actually just realized that I’m going to be away almost every weekend in April. Next weekend I’ll be home. But then after that I have a weekend in Palm Springs, Cleveland, and then Seattle. All very exhausting and exciting. Since I do all my recipe testing and photography on the weekends, I’ll be a tornado in the kitchen this weekend so that EatChoFood is not a vacant wasteland for the month of April! I do this for you.

I have this ridiculous google doc where I put all my of random recipe ideas. You never know when inspiration is going to hit you! Some of the recipes are weird. Some of them aren’t really coherent, just a stringing of words that described something that’s hopefully edible. I should be able to take a pretty good chunk off the list next weekend. One thing that has been on my recipe google doc for the longest time is Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka. It has to have been on there for at least a year. I’ve made a babka a few years ago and it turned out okay. I think I rushed it. It tasted great, but the effort involved sort of made me not want to make a babka for a while. Until a month ago! I first tested out this recipe a month ago and it was not perfect. I made my own jam and it was just a little too loose, so the jam just disappeared after it was baked. The second issue was that it didn’t bake long enough. I trusted the base recipe with the cooking time, and it was definitely 15 minutes shy from a full bake. It ended up tasting fine and my coworkers loved it, but I knew I could do better. So I took my notes and tweaked my game plan. Cooked it longer, bought jam from a professional, and made some other flavor adjustments. It freaking worked! It’s so satisfying to see an experiment work out. You feel like a scientist of something!

The bread is super light and fluffily. The jam is very present and tart to balance the sweet an thick peanut butter. My mom would always use grape jelly in our PB&Js so that flavor has been ingrained in my brain. I used blackberry preserves, which comes pretty close to grape jelly. But you can use whatever jam, jelly, or preserve that you like! The top has a sweet and shiny glaze that adds the perfect amount of sweetness to a not super sweet bread. It’s so good with a glass of cold milk! Eating it fresh is definitely best, but I also had a slice with some yogurt and it was almost like having birthday cake for breakfast. That’s the dream right? I also think that it is totally justifiable to eat this babka for lunch because people eat PB&J sandwiches all the time! Right? So I say go for it. Eat it all day long!


Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

makes 2 loaves

Materials:

530 g (4 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
100 g (1/2 cup) white sugar
2 tsp rapid rise yeast
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter softened and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp crush peanuts
1/2 cup berry jam
1 tbsp olive oil

Syrup:

2/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar

steps:

1. Place flour, sugar, and yeast into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Slowly add in eggs and water and mix for another 3 minutes at medium speed. Add salt and butter a few cubes at a time until incorporated into the dough. Mix dough at medium speed for 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides every few minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and shape on the counter into a smooth round dough ball.

2. Brush a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight or atleast 12 hours.

3. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave out on the counter for 30 mins to get the chill off the dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into 15"x15" rectangle on a lightly floured surface. 

4. Spread creamy peanut butter with an offset spatula over the rectangle. Drizzle honey and sprinkle the crushed peanuts. Begin rolling the dough by starting with the 15" long edge and continue to tightly roll until you reach the other long edge. Trim about 3/4" to 1" off either end. With a really sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise. Set aside and repeat with the jam filling.

5. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. Take one peanut butter half and one jam half and place them side by side with the cut side facing up. Pinch one end together and cross one half over the other half. Repeat until the halves are braided. It's going to get really messy, but it's worth it! Carefully lift the braided loaf and place in the parchment lined loaf pan. Use a large spatula or dough scraper if you feel like you need some help. Repeat to make the second loaf. 

6. Cover the loaf pans with a damp paper towel. Place in a warm place and allow to proof for 90 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until deeply golden. If it starts to get a little too dark, cover the loaves with foil. The internal temperature should be 185 degrees.

8. While the loaves bake, make your syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and allow to cool down.

9. Remove the loaves from the oven and immediately brush the babkas with the syrup. It seems like a lot but use all of it. Allow the babkas to to cool in the pan until warm. Remove from the pan and allow to completely cool on a cooling rack.

10. Slice and enjoy!

recipe is adapted from the Chocolate Krantz Cakes recipe from the Jerusalem Cookbook