3 ¾ cups 450g plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp. caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp instant dried yeast equivalent to one packet or 7g
3 tbsp. whole milk
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. warm water 210ml altogether
3 tbsp. unsalted butter very soft
1 tbsp. olive oil
Chicken and Marinade:
4 chicken breasts sliced into bite-size chunks
1 cup 240ml buttermilk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp garlic salt
1 ½ cups 180g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ 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 liter/four cups
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
1 small red onion thinly sliced
¼ cucumber chopped into small pieces
Small bunch of fresh coriander cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds
Start by making the bao buns. In a bowl, mix together the plain flour, caster sugar, salt, and instant dried yeast.
In a separate jug, combine the whole milk, warm water, and soft unsalted butter. Stir until the butter melts, then pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Stir with a spoon initially, then knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, or use a mixer with a dough hook.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel, and leave it to prove for 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
While the dough is proving, prepare the Korean chicken. In a bowl, mix the chicken breasts, buttermilk, salt, white pepper, and garlic salt. Cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
After the dough has proved, tip it out onto a floured surface and knead it again. Divide the dough into 20 balls and roll each ball into an oval shape on top of a piece of baking parchment.
Brush the ovals with olive oil and fold them over using a chopstick, leaving a little space in the fold. Remove the chopstick and place each bun on a small piece of baking parchment.
Arrange the buns, along with the parchment, on trays. Cover each tray with clingfilm or a carrier bag, making sure it doesn’t touch the dough, and let them prove for an additional hour, until puffed up.
Preheat the oven on low heat to keep the cooked chicken warm. Heat a large pan of vegetable oil or a deep fat fryer until hot.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the crispy coating. Take a piece of chicken from the marinade, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip off, then coat the chicken in the crispy coating mixture. Repeat with all the chicken pieces.
Fry the coated chicken pieces in batches, around 10-12 at a time, for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Place the cooked chicken on a tray in the oven to keep warm while frying the remaining chicken.
In a steamer pan, steam the bao buns in batches, using baking parchment, for 10 minutes.
While the chicken and buns are cooking, prepare the Korean sauce. In a saucepan, combine the gochujang paste, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, vegetable oil, and sesame oil. Stir together and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
Place all the cooked chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. Toss the chicken to coat it in the flavorful sauce.
Carefully open the steamed bao buns and stuff them with the Korean chicken. Top with sliced red onion, chopped cucumber, fresh coriander (cilantro), and a sprinkle of black and white sesame seeds before serving.
You can easily adjust the spice level of the Korean sauce by adding more or less gochujang paste and chili flakes, according to your preference.
For a vegetarian version, you can substitute the chicken with crispy tofu or your favorite vegetable protein.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using it in the marinade.
To make the bao buns ahead of time, you can freeze them once they have cooled down. Just thaw and steam them before serving.
For an extra touch of freshness, you can add pickled vegetables, such as carrots or daikon radish, to the toppings.
Remember to be cautious when working with hot oil and always use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature for safe frying.