Sesame Chicken Gua Bao

Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food
Sesame Chicken Gua Bao - Eat Cho Food

I’ve been on this super random tour of North America the past week. Geneva, NY last weekend, then Cleveland for a few days, and now I’m on my last leg in Vancouver with the parental unit. We’ve only been in Vancouver for less than 24 hours and I’m already questioning why we haven’t moved here yet. My goal for this mini vacation is to take my parents to as many Asian restaurants as possible and find all their favorite foods! Why didn’t anyone tell me that Vancouver/Richmond has the best collection of Asian food?! We immediately drove to the town of Richmond from the airport and got our fix of noodle soup and roast duck. I think it satisfied my parents’ longing for Hong Kong food. Did you know this town is 75% Asian?! Amazing. So far the highlight of our first 24 hours (to me at least) has been T&T Supermarket. When I travel I love visiting local supermarkets. I think this one is heaven on Earth. I almost cried when I walked in. It was so bright and big. Filled to the brim with every single thing you would need from an Asian Supermarket. I could have spent hours starring at the steamed bun and bakery sections. I’ve also never seen so much oyster sauce in my entire life. I’m going to try and sneak in another trip there before we leave on Monday!

I took about a billion photos of all the various steamed buns and baked breads I haven’t seen before and I’m determined to recreate every single one of them! Brown Sugar Bao? Penguin Buns??!!!! So many good carbs. I feel like my recipe development calendar goes through waves where I only focus on dumplings for a few weeks and then it’s either noodle or baking time. I think when I’m finally back home I’m going to dive back into the deep world of steamed and baked bao! I love making freshly steamed buns. If you also had a serious aversion to bread crust in your youth then I’m sure you appreciate the soft and squishy crustless qualities of steamed buns! Just for the record, I’m an adult that eats crusts now. I’ll probably pick a freshly steamed gua bao over any sandwich bread though.

Gua Bao is a steamed bun that’s been purposefully formed/folded like a slider bun, destined to be filled with infinite tasty things! I’ve filled them with Chik-fil-a inspired fried chicken and my Mom’s beef roast. For this recipe, I channeled one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes. Sesame Chicken! It’s hard to beat my Mom’s beef roast stuffed in a bun, but I think this Sesame Chicken Gua Bao is my new favorite bun! Chicken thighs are lightly breaded, fried, and tossed in a very sesame forward sauce using La Tourangelle Toast Sesame Oil. It’s so toasty and nutty! All of their oils are so delicious! I drizzle their walnut oil on vegetables and they magically taste incredible with minimal effort! Oh, I can’t forget about this crazy easy slaw. It’s shredded cabbage tossed in La Tourangelle Sesame and Tamari Vinaigrette. I normally don’t buy salad dressing and prefer to make my own whenever a salad pops up in the kitchen, but their dressing already tastes exactly like something I would make on my own! The slaw is crunchy and tangy, which works so well with the savory and sweet sesame chicken. The gua bao acts a neutral cloud for everything to live in sesame harmony : )

These are so fun to make and even more fun to eat! Hope you give them a try and share them with all your friends! Or hoard them for yourself… I won’t tell anyone!

Thank you so much, La Tourangelle, for sponsoring this post!


Sesame Chicken Gua Bao

Serves 4

Materials:

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs - cut in half
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 tbsp La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
¼ cup flour
canola oil - for frying
8 Gua Bao Buns - Homemade or Store Bought
Sesame Seeds - for garnish
Chopped scallions - for garnish

Sesame Sauce:

2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp cornstarch
⅓ cup white sugar
1 tbsp La Tourangelle Sesame Oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

Slaw:
3 cups shredded cabbage
2 tbsp La Tourangelle Sesame and Tamari Vinaigrette


Steps :

  1. Whisk together rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce until combined. Set aside.

  2. Combine chicken thighs, cornstarch, salt, white pepper, sesame oil, and olive oil in bowl and mix until chicken is evenly coated. Allow the chicken to marinate for 15 minutes in the fridge. Take the chicken and add the egg and flour. Mix again until the chicken is evenly coated with a light batter.

  3. Heat about ½” of canola oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot add the chicken in batches. Fry the chicken on one side for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the chicken and fry the other side for another 3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat frying with remaining chicken thighs.

  4. Drain the oil from the skillet or grab a clean skillet. Heat pan over medium heat. Add in the sesame sauce. While stirring continuously, cook for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat and toss the fried chicken into the sesame sauce.

  5. To make the cabbage slaw, toss shredded cabbage with La Tourangelle Sesame and Tamari Vinaigrette. Set aside.

  6. To assemble the gua bao, place one piece of sesame chicken and a bit of cabbage slaw inside the gua bao. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Enjoy!

Basil Chicken Potstickers

Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food

How’s the work from home life, you may ask?? So far it’s been great! I decided that last Thursday and Friday were going to be vacation days for me. I slept, cleaned our apartment, organized the office, read some cookbooks, purged our fridge, and watched the remainder of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. You know, the important self care stuff. Then when Monday came I was antsy to get working and felt well rested! Well, sort of. Reuben and I rode our bikes twice over the weekend and my un-athletic self is not really sure what’s happening. So far work has consisted of emails, planning the logistics of my first class, spending all my money at Webstrauant Store, burning a pot of red beans for red bean paste, and making killer scallion pancakes (recipe coming next week!). Not too bad for a days work!

I have always dreamED of being able to work from home. I imagined that I would wake up every morning bursting with energy, fix myself a nice breakfast, put on yoga pants, work a little, go out for an afternoon coffee or exercise break, maybe talk to a person, and finish off the day with some freshly wrapped dumplings. So far the only thing that’s been true is the yoga pants. Ironically the hardest thing about working from home is having the energy to make yourself a nice meal. Yesterday I skipped breakfast and then made myself the lunch of my 5 year old dreams - a mini cheese quesadilla, avocado, rice, and a ripe mango. I was saving up my energy for the scallion pancakes I was about to test I guess. I’m hoping I’ll find a nice flow in the next few weeks. Right now it feels like I need to get a million things done and set the ground work for this freelance life and everything feels very urgent. Maybe I should get into meal prep?

I realize that I talk about dumplings a lot. They are just so good and versatile! One of the things I love most about dumplings is how meditative they are to make. If you have a hard time pleating dumplings it might be a little stressful, but once you get the hang of them it really is such a relaxing practice. I’m often making dumplings alone, which shouldn’t sound as sad as that sentence reads! Back home with my family we would make dumplings together and it would be the best time! Quick too… but here in SF I like to spend Sundays (DimSumday!!!) making dumplings either for dinner or to replenish our freezer stash. Reuben might pop in and help me fold a dumpling or 2, but I really don’t mind the peace that you get from pleating alone. I’ll turn some music on or just listen to the Top 50 songs playing from the neighbor’s kitchen across the lightwell. After a week of craziness and right before starting another week of craziness, making dumplings is my favorite way to find some calm in the kitchen.

So when Le Creuset asked me to create a recipe that helps me find calm in the kitchen, I immediately jumped to dumplings! They have this new GORGEOUS color called Fig as part of their New Calm hues. Somewhere between 1998-2005 I was obsessed with the color purple. Ask my Mom about the time I begged her to paint my bedroom lavender. I still feel like I don’t deserve to have these beauties in my kitchen. The braiser has quickly become my new favorite cooking vessel and has found a coveted permanent spot on my stove top. Obviously you can braise things in it, but I’ve also been sautéing vegetables in there and also cooking dumplings! The braiser is sort of perfect for the pan fry and steam method for cooking dumplings. This is when you sear the bottoms of the dumplings in a little bit of oil until they get nice and golden, then add some water to the pan and cover it to steam. Adding water and steaming something you want to be crispy might sound odd, but the magic is that once the water has fully cooked off at the end there is still a bit of oil in the pan that will crisp the dumplings back up again. The braiser works so well because 1. it has a fitted lid and 2. it’s big and beautiful enough that you can load it up with dumplings and then bring it right to the table when you’re ready!

The filling of this dumpling has a little Thai/Southeast Asian twist. We have Sriracha, fish sauce, and Thai Basil (the BEST SMELL). When you combine all 3 of these ingredients you get the most amazing dance party of flavors! These dumplings are spicy, herbaceous, and just a little bit funky but in the best way possible. I also find that chicken dumplings are a lot lighter than the pork or beef variety, so you have the ability to eat more dumplings. That’s never a bad thing!

Gosh, the Fig color is so pretty… I’m going to go stare at them for a little bit and then attempt to make some red bean paste without scorching my pot again!


Basil Chicken Potstickers

makes 24 large dumplings or 36 small dumplings

dough materials:

10 oz AP flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cup just boiled water

filling materials:

1lb ground chicken
1 cup fresh thai basil (regular basil works too) - chopped
2 tbsp Sriracha
4 cloves garlic - minced
2 green onion stalks - chopped
1/4 cup mined red onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
heavy 1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

olive oil for cooking
water for cooking

make dumpling dough:

  1. Add flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and slowly pour in just boiled water. Mix dough together with your finger tips or a wooden spoon if the mixture feels too hot. Mix until water is absorbed and the dough is just combine. Knead for 2-3 minutes until dough is round and smooth. Place dough in a medium ziplock bag, seal, and allow to rest and hydrate for at least 30 minutes. Dough can rest for up to 2 hours before being used.

make dumplings:

  1. in a large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, basil, Sriracha, garlic, green onions, red onion, fish sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, salt, and cornstarch. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let the filling to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Filling can be made a day in advance.

  2. Lightly flour your work surface. Remove dough from the ziplock bag. Cut dough in half and keep one half in the bag. Roll out one half of your dough into a 1” thick rope. Cut into 16 (for smaller dumplings) or 12 (for larger dumplings) equal pieces. Place pieces of dough in the ziplock bag to prevent drying out. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 3”-3.5” disc with a small rolling pin or a tortilla press if you have one. Place a scant tablespoon (or a little less if you’re making smaller dumplings) of filling in the center of your round dumpling wrapper, avoid over filling. Fold according to desired shape. My simple dumpling pleat can found on my Instagram Highlights! Repeat with remaining dumplings and place dumplings on a lightly floured baking tray until ready to be cooked.

  3. To cook your dumplings, add 1 -2 tbsp of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add a single layer of dumplings to fill your pan. Make sure there is room between the dumplings so they don’t stick. Sear on the flat side for 2-3 minutes until the side is toasted and golden brown. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water to the pan depending on your pan size, and cover the pan with a lid. Steam the dumplings for 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid and allow any remaining liquid to cook off and for the bottoms to crisp up again. The dumplings will stick to the pan, as the name implies, just take a small spatula or fork to gently pry them off the pan. Repeat steps with remaining dumplings.

  4. Serve immediately with chili oil and/or soy sauce!

Notes:

  1. Dumplings can be frozen raw. Place pleated dumplings on a baking tray and freeze until solid. Place dumplings in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When cooking, prepare as the recipe states but steam for an additional 3 minutes until cooked through.

 

Thank you, Le Creuset for sponsoring this post!

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.