Today is a long recipe, but if you are short on time like me you can pop in your local Asian markets and buy premade bao buns. The chicken and sauce are to die for so if anything please please please make that!

Korean Chicken Bao
(Adapted from Kitchen Sanctuary)

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Bao Buns:
3 3/4 cups (450g) plain (all purpose) flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp (equivalent to one packet or 7g) instant dried yeast
3 tbsp whole milk
3/4 cup + 2tbsp (210ml altogether) warm water
3 tbsp unsalted butter very soft
1 tbsp olive oil

Start by making the bao buns.

Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix together.

Add the milk, warm water and butter to a jug and stir together until the butter melts. Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture at first with a spoon, and then with your hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover (with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size – about 90 minutes – 2 hours).

Meanwhile, start on the Korean Chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl. Add the buttermilk, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Mix together, cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour.

After the dough has proved, tip it out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Knead the dough again and split into 20 balls. Place a piece of baking parchment on your work surface and roll each ball into an oval on top of the parchment, using a rolling pin – approx. 6cm x 9cm.

Brush the ovals with the olive oil and fold each oval over, using a chopstick in the middle to fold over to leave a little space in the fold (so the oil is on the inside of the fold). Remove the chopstick and place each bun onto a small piece of baking parchment.

Place the buns on the trays – still on the baking parchment – as this will help you to move them later. Cover each tray with cling film or a carrier bag (ensuring the clingfilm doesn’t touch the dough – or it will stick) and leave to prove for a further hour, until puffed up.

Meanwhile, put a large steamer pan on to boil. Working in batches, place the buns in the steamer (you can keep them on the baking parchment and steam for 10 minutes. I use a double layer steam pan – placing four buns in each layer. Once steamed, place on a warm plate.

Chicken and marinade:
4 chicken breasts sliced into bite-size chunks
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Crispy Coating:
1 1/2 cups (180g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp celery salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp chili flakes
vegetable oil for deep frying at least 1 litre/four cups

Preheat the oven to a low heat (to keep cooked chicken warm). Heat a large pan of vegetable oil (or preheat your deep fat fryer) until hot (you can test by dropping a small cube of bread in there, if it rises immediately to the top and starts to bubble rapidly, it’s hot enough). You’ll need at least 1 litre (4 cups) of oil.

Mix together the crispy coating ingredients in a small bowl.

Take the chicken out of the fridge. Lift a piece from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drip off.

Dredge the chicken in the crispy coating mixture – ensuring it’s fully covered. Place on a tray and repeat until all of the chicken is coated.

Once the oil is hot enough, add in 10-12 of the chicken pieces. You can add more or less depending on the size of your pan, just be sure not to overcrowd the chicken. Cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked in the middle. You can check this by cutting open a piece of chicken, if it’s no longer pink in the middle, it’s cooked.

Place on a tray in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest of the chicken.

Korean Sauce:
2 tbsp gochujang paste
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

While the chicken and bao buns are cooking, make the sauce. Place the gochujang, honey, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vegetable oil and sesame oil in a saucepan and stir together.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.

Place all of the cooked chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken. Toss together to coat. You can leave the chicken chunks whole, or slice up if you prefer.

To Serve:
1 small red onion thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber chopped into small pieces
Small bunch of fresh coriander cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds

Carefully open the steamed bao buns and stuff with the Korean chicken. Top with slices of red onion, cucumber, fresh coriander (cilantro) and sesame seeds before serving.

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