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


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!


  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.

Spring Chicken Siu Mai

Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Main
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai

Ah, it feels good to be home : ) Reuben and I just got back from 9 wonderful days on the East Coast! We danced around, ate, and celebrated love with some of my best friends in New York City. Then we got some quality time in with his parents in cute little Roosevelt, New Jersey. His mom made us brownies and this incredible chorizo, chickpea, and cod stew that I'm still dreaming about. Triple C! I also developed an addiction to these coconut and seedy cluster things they kept at the house. I'm still dreaming about them and trying to find the time to recreate them myself. THEY ARE SO GOOD. At the tail end of our trip we spent the last weekend in Philadelphia. It was MUGGY. I forgot what that type of weather felt like. It was so hot and wet, the second you went outside your skin was instantly damp. Living in San Francisco has made us wimps. We live in a bubble of constant 65 degree weather and any temperature slightly above or below that is either hot as balls or cold as tits. Is cold as tits a saying??? I caught myself telling someone in Philadelphia how we don't eat outside in San Francisco because it gets down to 55 degrees at night and it's freezing. I realized I sounded like an idiot. My inner midwesterner was embarrassed.

Despite the muggy weather in Philadelphia, I absolutely loved it there. Reuben and I have been wanting to make a trip out there to see if we could potentially move there. I think the answer is yes, definitely yes. The food was so great! We ate at 2 Michael Solomonov restaurants, Dizengoff and Abe Fischer. Insanely good! We would have made it 3 if I didn't feel like a meatball the whole time and had some actual stomach room to grab a donut at Federal Donuts... next time! Center City was super cute and charming. Super walkable too! I was worried that Philadelphia would be missing all the Asian food we're spoiled with by living in San Francisco, but then 1 block from our Airbnb was a ramen place that made brisket ramen with kimchi and a matzo ball and all my worries disappeared. It's hard to compare any city to San Francisco, but I think Philadelphia has all the amenities and culture points we need, but just a lot cheaper and a little more charming with all the cute old neighborhoods. Downtown Philadelphia is also not nearly as poopy as Downtown San Francisco... ugh, gross. If/when we move there I'll just have to buy a bunch of loose summer dresses and shorts to help acclimate to the weather. 

Since we've been living in the Inner Richmond, which is the Asian food mecca of San Francisco, I've developed this irrational fear of not having access to great Asian food whenever we move. We just have the best Thai, Burmese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants within 4 blocks of our apartment. But the day that we move will come, and I will be prepared to make my favorite dishes!  I'll probably never be able to recreate the magic that happens in the kitchen of Good Luck Dim Sum, but I'm feeling pretty confident that my dumpling making skills will satisfy my cravings. These Spring Chicken Siu Mai were inspired by all the beautiful spring produce popping up at our farmers market. I love this season so much! It's almost as great as late summer, when all the tomatos and stone fruit taste like candy. The chicken siu mai are a lot lighter and maybe slightly healthier than the traditional pork and shrimp or beef fillings. Once it's all steamed together it tastes super fresh and sort of like all the best parts of your spring garden rolled up into a little dumpling. Bonus points for it being super easy to assemble too. No fancy pleats or pinching necessary!

Spring Chicken Siu Mai

makes 36 dumplings


1 lb ground chicken (turkey works too)
1/3 cup fresh peas
1/3 cup diced carrots (same size as peas)
2 spring/green onion stocks - whites and greens thinly chopped
1 egg
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
36 round wonton wrappers
extra peas and carrots for garnish


1. Combine ground chicken, peas, carrots, spring onions, egg, cornstarch, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and white pepper in a bowl. Gently mix together with your hands or a rubber spatula until evenly combined, avoid over mixing. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marinate.

2. Place a heaping tablespoon (about 1.5 tablespoons) of filling in the center of your wonton wrapper. Fold up the side of the wrapper, but leave the top of the dumpling open. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Cover prepared dumplings with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Top each dumpling with either a pea or a cube of carrot for garnish.

3. Boil water in a pot and place a bamboo steamer (the same diameter as the pot) on top. Line the bamboo steamer with cabbage or a parchment paper disk with perforated holes. Arrange dumplings in the steamer, cover, and steam for 7-8 minutes.

4. Remove dumplings from the steamer and enjoy by dipping into some dark soy sauce.


Fried Chicken Bao Sliders


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 12 large strips
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

sliced cucumbers
hoisin sauce

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!