Man I don’t even know where to begin with this Bao Bun Tacos with Gochujang Chicken Recipe and Banh Mi Slaw… All I can say is wow for each thing, especially the bao buns, where this is the first time I’ve ever made them. Yes, they are a labor of love, yes they are worth every minute of work, but what I’m wondering is how on earth so many restaurants can serve bao buns so cheap. I mean with the amount of time it takes to make these things they should be $10 a piece, not $2 or $3 like I see. Maybe for others they are just so wonderful to make that price really doesn’t matter. Regardless of what I think about how much restaurants should charge for them, they are so dang good. They are light, fluffy and have the most wonderful sweet finish to them that you’ll mistake it for eating dessert. However, with the right combination of foods to pair these bao buns up with, you are going to have an insanely balanced dish on your hand.
I have been wanting to make bao buns for some time, but I also knew I did not want to do the traditional rendition which is stuffing them and steaming them. I already knew they were sweet so pairing them up with something a little spicy I thought would be a nice touch, so for me marinating some chicken in a Korean style gochujang marinade was screaming at me from the beginning. Gochujang is a thick paste made from chili peppers, sticky rice and fermented soy beans, amount a few other ingredients. It’s full flavored and when used without sugar or acid can be pretty dang spicy. I paired it up with some honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, hoison sauce, cilantro, lime juice and sesame seeds. I know, I know a lot going on, but man is the flavor so good. If you wanted to do a really dumbed down version of this gochujang chicken then you could simply use gochujang, honey, soy, lime juice and hoison sauce. When it comes to marinating the chicken I can’t stress enough to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. To heck with all those 30 minute or 60-minute marinade… I’m telling you that you won’t get much flavor from those types of hacks, so be sure to give yourself some time and marinate the chicken over night before grilling it up and slicing it.
As I stated earlier the bao buns take some time to make because of the 3 different rising periods. The dough is pretty much a basic bread dough with the addition of more sugar and cornstarch. Just like bread you let the yeast feed on the caster sugar and warm water for 5 to 7 minutes or until a foamy raft forms on top. From there add in the sifted flour and cornstarch along with some rice wine vinegar and sunflower oil, and mix it together and knead it for 10 minutes. You should have a really nice smooth soft dough ball at the end. Place a damp towel over top and let it chill until it’s doubled in size, or about 60 to 90 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled you want to sprinkle a little baking powder in and kneed it again for 2 to 3 minutes. The baking powder will allow the bao buns to keep their shape after steaming so be sure not to miss this part. Then again let it rise for about 30 minutes or so before rolling them out into 20 small dough balls. Here we go again… Cover them with a damp towel and let’em rise for 10 to 15 minutes!! WHEW HEW, can you feel it?! Yup time is starting to eat up :-).
Next you roll out each dough ball so that it is in the shape of an oval and then you want to fold them over, like a mini taco. See where we are going with these yet? From there you steam them in a traditional steamer or an Asian style steamer that is lined with cabbage leaves so that they do no stick in the inside. don’t worry about buying cabbage because you should have plenty left over after making the banh mi slaw. You will also have to steam these bao buns in batches because you’ll only be able to steam so many at 1 time. Set them on a sheet tray once cooked.
Lastly it’s time to make the banh mi slaw, which is just so dang good! So I’ve got sweet with the bao buns, spicy with the gochujang chicken, so now I need a little acidity and vegetables to round everything out. Obviously the first thing that came to mind was banh mi slaw. I know you are like hold on a second, you are combining Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese? Yes, yes I am. Mess with it! Banh mi slaw is actually a very simple mixture of carrots, jalapenos, cabbage and cilantro tossed in an even simpler rice wine vinaigrette, but can be enhanced to the level that I made it which is loaded with veggies. When you get to my age you crave veggies non-stop so you throw as much in there as you can, especially when you have a versatile recipe like banh mi.
So there you have it, Bao Bun Tacos with Gochujang Chicken Recipe and Banh Mi Slaw. Dude I know it’s going to take you a bit but your family or friends or whoever is eating these will flip when they taste them. Happy cooking!!
Bao Bun Tacos with Gochujang Chicken Recipe and Banh Mi Slaw
For the Chicken:
- ¼ cup of gochujang
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of mirin
- ½ cup of hoison sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
- ½ tablespoon of sesame seeds
- 1 pound of chicken tenders
For the Banh Mi Slaw:
- 2 cups of shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup of shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup of matchstick carrots
- ½ sliced red bell pepper
- ½ sliced cucumber
- 1 sliced jalapeño seeds removed
- 2 to 3 sliced radishes
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- ¼ cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- ¼ cup of sesame oil
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
For the Bao Buns:
- 2 cups of warm water 112° to 115°
- 5 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon of active yeast
- 3 cups of bread flour sifted + more for kneading
- 1 cup of cornstarch sifted
- 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
Chicken: Whisk together all ingredients excluding the chicken in a large bowl until combined. Submerge the chicken in the marinade and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
To cook the chicken, remove the tenders from the marinade and cook over medium-high heat in a griddle pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until grill marks are formed and they are cooked through out. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes before thinly slicing.
Banh Mi Slaw: Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and chill until serving time.
Bao Buns: Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and whisk and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes or until a foamy raft forms on top.
Next, stir in the remaining ingredients until combined and then knead for 10 minutes on a clean surface dusted with flour until it becomes a soft white dough. Cover with a damp towel until it doubles in size, about 60 to 90 minutes.
Sprinkle the baking powder over top of the dough and gently knead it for 2 to 3 minutes and then cover it again with the damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes
Form 20 small dough balls and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out each dough ball until it forms an oval that is about 5 inches long. Brush the top of the rolled out dough with some sunflower oil and fold it over until it looks like a taco shell. Repeat until the dough balls have been rolled up.
Steam the bao buns in batches for 4 to 6 minutes or until they are fluffy and cooked through out.
To Plate: Place a small amount of the sliced cooked chicken into a bao bun shell and garnish with the banh mi slaw. Note there will most likely be some coleslaw left.