Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns

Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns
Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns

It has been a very bun-filled month on Eat Cho Food. It’s also be raining constantly in San Francisco and I feel like rain and chilly weather only kicks up my craving for the fluffiest and most pillow-like of carbs. We finally had a sunny day yesterday and it was glorious! I always forget how dependent I am on the Sun until spring forward happens. I’m very much a Leo and the longer days and warmer weather make my happiness meter go off the charts!

You know what also makes my happiness meter go off the charts? Love : ))))))) sorry if this blog gets too cheesy and mushy for you… you should probably find another blog to read. Reuben and I celebrated 5 years together on Saturday! So this past weekend was a wonderful and slow weekend of enjoying each other’s company, eating really really really good food at Mister Jiu’s, planning for Italy some more, and taking pretty pictures of pizza! I’m so excited, guys. Reuben has finally agreed to let me document and share one of his pizza recipes! I know that 99.9999999999% of you have never had a slice of his pizza before, but it is seriously the best pizza in the universe. We’ve been together for 5 years and he’s been perfecting his hydration ratios and technique for almost as long. There’s about 24783748374983275983658937489374019274 reasons why I love Reuben, but his pizza ranks at about #3. I just had a slice of it cold out of the fridge and it’s still better than anything I can get on the West Coast.

One day, I hope we can open up a Pizza/Dumpling/Bakery/Beer Hall + Coffeeshop place. It would essentially be serving all the foods we eat in our regular day lives, but YOU would be able to have some too! Reuben would be slinging the best pizza in the universe and pouring you a taste of some ultra rare sour beer brewed with heirloom peaches that he’s been aging for the last 10 years. I would be bopping around the shop decorating cakes and pleating dumplings. We would both be constantly covered in flour, but so happy. Doesn’t that just sound like the most carb heavy dream ever? Ugh. ONE DAY.

Until then, I’m just going to be over here in my tiny kitchen perfecting all my dough recipes and pleating skills. These Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns would most definitely be on the menu! I would grab 1 or 2 in the morning with a coconut milk matcha latte and be set for the day! I actually stop at the dim sum shop around the corner from our apartment about 1 once a week for breakfast. I get 1 order of har gow and 1 order of pork siu mai to go. I can typically eat all 6 dumplings within the time it takes me to walk to the bus stop. Have I ever told you that I LOVE to walk and eat? It’s weird and I can’t explain why I enjoy it so much. Anyways! One morning I decided to mix it up a bit and get an order of har gow plus just 1 steamed chicken bun. I just want to say that I LOVE Good Luck Dim Sum. It’s my favorite dim sum in San Francisco. But this chicken bun was real bad. The dough was fine - fluffy and slightly sweet. The filling was horrible. The texture was way too tough and not tender or juicy at all. I took one bite and was super disappointed the remainder of my walk to the bus. I really dislike bad food… as most people would be. But after I eat something like that, it’s hard for me to shake off the feeling of “I can make this better!”

After that unfortunate morning, I was set on making the best chicken bun I could! I think I’m pretty close with this one. As soon as they were cool enough to eat without burning my entire mouth, I ate about 3 of them without even blinking. They are so good, so fluffy, so tender, and so springy! The leeks add a touch of springtime freshness that I’m so ready for more of! The filling is light but tender and juicy. I learned a little trick from my friend, Paul, for making a super soft and tender ground chicken filling… melk! I mean milk. Sorry, I’m from Ohio, where we say melk. The addition of a little bit of milk works some magic on what would typically be pretty dry and lean ground chicken. The richness from the milk also adds a bit of fat and richness that siu mai typically gets from pork. If you live a dairy free life, you can just replace the milk with water instead.

I’m sure in the future I’ll continue to develop a lot more chicken buns recipes. BBQ Chicken Buns. Teriyaki Chicken Buns. Five Spice Chicken Buns. All the chicken buns. But for now, these are my favorite chicken buns in all the land! I can’t stop thinking about reheating the ones I’ve safely packed away in our freezer for a rainy day. Ah! I think it’s going to rain tomorrow…


Chicken and Leek Steamed Buns

makes 12 steamed buns

dough recipe adapted from Red House Spice’s excellent bao guide!

bun dough:

250g (~1 3/4 cups) AP flour
50g (~1/3cup) cornstarch
2tsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1 cup warm water + 1/4 cup more if dough is dry

filling:

1 leek
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp cornstarch


make dough:

  1. Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, and instant yeast in the bowl of your standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Give it a quick mix to evenly incorporate everything. Begin to stir on medium speed. Slowly pour in 1 cup warm water and continue to knead for 8 minutes. Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead for another 5 minutes until you get a smooth ball. If the dough feels a little too dry during the hand kneading process add a little bit more water, no more than an extra 1/4 cup. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow dough to rest in a warm place for 1 hour to 1.5 hours until doubled in size.

  2. While the dough is resting, prepare your filling. Peel the tough outer layers of the leek. Cut off the top green portion of the leek and discard. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and then thinly slice each half. Quickly run the thinly sliced leeks under water to rinse off any dirty or sand. Dry off with a paper towel and set aside.

  3. Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add in garlic and leeks. Sauté for 5-7 mins until aromatic and slightly golden around the edges. Remove garlic and leeks from the pan and place in a large bowl.

  4. Add chicken to the bowl of garlic and leeks. Add in salt, white pepper, oyster sauce, soy sauce, milk, and cornstarch to the bowl. Give it a good mix with chopsticks or a wooden spoon until just combined. Set aside and let the flavors develop for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 day covered in the fridge.

  5. To form the buns, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll out each portion of dough into a 4” diameter circle. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper and pleat close, or pinch close if you wish. Place formed buns on a baking tray dusted with flour and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rest for another 30 minutes.

  6. Set up a bamboo steamer over a wok or pot filled with boiling water. Steam for 15 minutes. Allow for buns to cool and then enjoy with soy sauce, chili oil, or plain!

notes:

  1. Steamed buns can be frozen after they have been fully cooked. You can either reheat in the microwave by microwaving for 3 minutes while wrapped in a damp paper towel, or steamed in a bamboo steamer for 12-15 minutes.

  2. Milk can be swapped out for water if you prefer a dairy free option.

Pull Apart Coconut Buns

Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food
Coconut Buns (Cocktail Buns) - Eat Cho Food

You see that first photo up there? That’s actually a selfie I took this weekend, because I’ve most literally turned into a bun and got a nice tan. Jkkkkk, I just ate a lot of buns the last few days for the sake of “research” and feel very bun-like. I definitely didn’t get a tan because I’ve been mostly indoors since… forever. This weekend has been all sorts of wonderful and all sorts of crazy. My office gave me 2 days to work from home and bake a cake! Like, what?! I’ve been slaving away on this Great British Baking Show Final Showstopper caliber cake that’s inspired by the designs our office created for a recent project. The cake will be part of one of our quarterly publications! I just finished it and I’m actually pretty happy with it! My coworker, Paulina, is an incredible graphic designer and the design of this cake was actually inspired by her work. I made her wedding cake too, which was also inspired by the graphics she created for her invites. So pretty much Paulina and I should start a graphic cake business! Ah, I wish! There was a moment during the decorating process when my buttercream was being weird and kept breaking and I though I was going to melt into one of my crying puddles, but then it somehow worked out! Hooray! If you just push through the butter and tears, things will work out.

(Maybe my tendency to cry all the time is what prevented me from making it on the Great American Baking Show?????? How would the producers know that about me though? Oh, whatever… I’m over it. Stop talking to yourself, there’s still people reading your blog.)

I can’t wait to share the final cake with you! Hopefully that will happen soon.

When I wasn’t working on this crazy cake, Reuben and I got to finally spend some quality time together. It seemed like we barely saw each other for what felt like eons because I was working overtime a bunch and Reuben was gone on his man ski trip. We took advantage of our weekend and got to relax, be lazy, make plans for Italy (we leave in a month!!!!! Holy, meatballs.), eat lots of buns, and squeeze in a little brewery pit stop. There was a cat named Matcha at the brewery we stopped at. I stalked the cat. If you watched my Instagram stories over the weekend you already know it was pretty much the highlight of my whole weekend. Gosh, I loved Matcha. I desperately need a small animal in my life I can name Black Sesame or Noodle.

Should we discuss these buns now? Last week I shared those lovely Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns and I was overwhelmed by how many people related to them and also considered them a childhood favorite! I would love it if you share with me your Chinese Bakery favorites! I’ll try to make them! This week, I’m sharing another one of my favorites (I have a lot of favorites…)! You might know them as Coconut Buns, Cocktail Buns, or Gai Mei Bao. These buns have a fluffy milk bread base and then filled with a sweet coconut and slightly milky filling. Its made all shiny with a simple syrup glaze, which gives it just a little extra kiss of sweetness. The coconut filling is the best part of the bun! I should eat that stuff straight! Don’t though because there is raw flour in it and it needs to be cooked a bit haha, but you get the point. It’s delicious. The ratio of filling to bun in this recipe is a little higher than what you would find at an actual bakery, but this is my kitchen and I can do what I want! You may notice that the milk bread base is this recipe is different than the Hot Dog Flower Buns, and that is because I’m still experimenting with all the various milk bread techniques. Don’t worry though, they all taste good! Typically you would find Coconut Buns as individual buns, but I wanted to turn them into a shareable/pull apart situation because why the hell not? There is always something about tearing your food apart with your hands that make it taste better. The pull apart nature of this recipe also makes this a great option for your weekend brunch table too! Yay for friends tearing apart buns!


Pull Apart Coconut Buns

makes 11 buns in a 8” round pan

dough materials:

1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup bread flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt

coconut filling materials:

6 tbsp softened butter
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup dried milk powder
1/2 cup finely shredded coconut

1 egg + 1 tbsp water - egg wash
sesame seeds - for topping (optional)
1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup white sugar - syrup glaze (optional)

steps:

  1. Combine heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cornstarch, flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of your standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix at medium speed (speed setting 4 for KitchenAid) for 15 minutes until a smooth and slightly sticky dough is formed. Stop to scrape down the sides every few minutes. If the dough sticks to the sides, sprinkle a little bit of flour after scraping to help it not stick. Once dough is formed, place in a large bowl lightly greased with oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 90 minutes. The dough will grow 1.5x from its original size.

  2. While is resting, make the coconut filling. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Set aside.

  3. Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 11 equal pieces. Roll out the dough into a roughly 3” circle. Add a tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough round. Fold the dough around the filling and pinch the dough together to close. Quickly roll again to form a smooth ball. Place dough in a greased 8” springform pan. Repeat with remaining dough and fill the springform pan. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for another 45 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp water) and sprinkle each bun with a few sesame seeds if using. Bake for 28-30 minutes on the center rack until golden brown and cooked through.

  5. A few minutes before taking the buns out of the oven, combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in a small sauce pan and cook on medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove buns from the oven and immediately brush the syrup glaze over the buns. Allow buns to cool in the springform pan for 10 minutes. Remove buns from the springform pan and cool on a wire rack until ready to eat!

notes :

  1. Buns are best fresh out of the oven. After a few hours or days the bread will feel a little hard. You can just microwave the buns for 15-25 seconds and they will be fluffy again!

  2. If you only have active yeast, you can add it to the warm milk with a pinch of sugar and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. It should be have a few bubbles on the surface.

Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns

Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns // https://eatchofood.com/blog/2019/2/24/chinese-bakery-style-hot-dog-flower-buns

I have had the the whole apartment to myself aaaaaalllll weekend long! Reuben is away again for… you guessed it… a ski trip. He does love to ski, that man. He’s been in Montana with a bunch of other men, doing manly things. Man Mountain Ski Trip. It’s been nice to have the place to myself because I end up being super productive. You can get a lot of stuff done when there isn’t a person around trying to hug you all the time or get you to look at yet another adorable mini pig video. The upside of being alone is that I have a ton of great recipes to share with y’all in the next month. Downside to being left alone is that I turn into this weird workaholic and end up literally working from 7am to 11 pm, with maybe a few breaks in between to watch some Netflix while my bun dough is proofing. I also end up not eating any real meals…. I didn’t have another person around to feed nutritious meals, so I ended up just snacking on the recipes I developed or whatever I found in the kitchen. So I pretty much ate buns, more buns, a crappy frozen pizza, a few bites of tres leches cake (recipe is coming soon and it is INSANE), and a lot of popcorn. SO MUCH POPCORN. Wait. Am I turning into a college boy?!!!!! I need a vegetable. I did have an excellent matcha latte on Sunday though. That’s at least green. Oh! And there were scallions on the hot dog flower buns. That counts for something.

I wasn’t going to share these Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns (say that 3 times fast) for another few weeks, but I just loved them so much that I needed to share them with the world immediately! One thing that you may or may not know about me is that I LOVE hot dogs. And now that I’m thinking about it pretty much everyone that’s close to me also shares a love of the tubular meat. Or does everyone love hot dogs? During my sophomore year in college, I lived with 4 of my best girlfriends, and it was a great time! Just scratch out the crappy boyfriend I had at the time. All 5 of us shared a strange love of hot dogs (even Kate, who is like a health and beauty goddess!), so much so that we decided to celebrate Hot Dog Tuesday! Or was it Thursdays? I can’t really remember, but we definitely grilled hot dogs on Alex’s little George Foreman grill once a week. It was all hot dog dandy until one day we decided to also make corndogs as a sick play on dessert… because corndogs are a little sweet? IDK. That night we definitely over did it on the dogs, or maybe it was the sodium and nitrates? But after that we sort of lost the desire to eat hot dogs once a week. It was probably for the best. Huh, maybe I’ve just been eating like a college girl all weekend?? Anyways, the point is that I really enjoy hot dogs and like to figure out how to incorporate them into as many different recipes as possible. Reuben’s mom makes what I call a “lazy corn dog” and I am VERY into it.

Chinese bakeries are also something I’m very into! French bakeries get all the attention. They’re great, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to bite into a buttery and rich kouign amann everyday! But the first bakeries I remember going to were Chinese ones. They all had walls of plastic cases filled with fluffy buns, sponge cakes of all sorts of flavors, and tarts piled high with shiny glossy fruit. Cocktail Buns. Pineapple Buns. Taro Buns. Custard Buns. Hot Dog Buns. So many buns. I wanted to fill my plastic tray with as many buns as possible. Or as many as my mom would buy for me, I guess. The Hot Dog Bun (not like a traditional split bun for a hot dog) is so amazing because it’s a fully encased hot dog. Not like hot dogs could be even more portable and easy to eat. The salty hot dog is wrapped with a fluffy and slightly sweet milk bread and makes for the most perfect bite! The flower version taste no different than a classic fully wrapped Hot Dog Bun, but definitely makes for a more photogenic wiener. Sorry. It’s true though! Like look at these things! After the Rose Siu Mai, I think it’s my life mission to make as many foods in flower form as possible.


Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Flower Buns

makes 8 buns

milk bread recipe from A Common Table by Cynthia Chen McTernan from Two Red Bowls!

dough materials:
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour + more for dusting
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp unsalted butter - very soft

tangzhong (flour starter) materials:
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp bread flour

flower bun materials:

8 hot dogs
1 egg + 1 tbsp water - for egg wash
chopped scallion green - for topping
sesame seeds - for topping

1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup white sugar - syrup glaze (optional)

steps:

  1. Prepare the dough the night before or at least 2-3 hours before baking. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil to scald the milk. About 1-2 minutes. Watch the milk carefully so it doesn’t boil over. Set milk aside to cool.

  2. To make the tangzhong, which is a flour starter that helps achieve a super fluffy dough, whisk together water and bread flour in a small saucepan over low heat. Continue to whisk until the mixture looks like a thick paste. About 2 minutes. Remove the tangzhong from the heat and scrape into a small bowl to cool to room temperature.

  3. In the bowl of your standmixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk together instant yeast, bread flour, sugar, and salt. In another bowl combine the milk, tangzhong, and egg until evenly mixed. Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Begin to knead on low and then increase to medium speed. Knead for 5 mins. Lightly dust with a bit of flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.

  4. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time to the dough while the mixer is still going. Sprinkle a bit more flour and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth .

  5. Place dough in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let dough rest in the fridge overnight (8-24 hours) or out in a warm spot for 2 hours.

  6. After the first proof, scrap the dough out onto a clean kitchen surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel while forming. Roll out 1 piece of dough and roll it out into a roughly 3”x7” rectangle or blog. Place 1 hot dog in the center of the dough. Roll up the hot dog in the dough and pinch the seams closed. Cut the hotdog into 6 equal pieces. Arrange the 6 pieces in the shape of a flower - 1 piece in the center with 5 petals. Place the hot dog flower on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat with remaining buns. Cover hot dog flower buns with a damp kitchen towel and allow to proof one last time for 40-60 minutes.

  7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Brush the buns with egg wash and top with chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

  8. While the buns are baking, make your syrup glaze. Boil water and sugar for 1-2 minutes. Brush the sugar glaze on the baked buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

  9. Allow the buns to cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!

notes :

  1. Buns are best fresh out of the oven. After a few hours or days the bread will feel a little hard. You can just microwave the buns for 20-30 seconds and they will be fluffy again!

  2. If you only have active yeast, you can add it to the warm milk with a pinch of sugar and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. It should be have a few bubbles on the surface.