Bao Chick’n Bao Bao!
Here’s the thing: I’ve got this complex fascination with the perfect bite. Every dish I make has to have the perfect ratio of protein, sauce, and carbs to absolutely maximise the chance that every bite is flawless. In short, I sleep and breathe perfect bites so I can eat ‘em. It’s probably some diagnosable psychological disorder, but let’s roll with it — at least you can’t get hit with a restraining order against food.
This is all in pursuit of perfect food moments. Whether it be popping a whole, juicy pan-fried dumpling into your mouth, or a hot piece of fried chicken with an unhealthy splodge of Kewpie mayo, it’s that bite that makes you close your eyes and drift away. Before you know what hit you, your brain goes to fuzz, your cheeks are oozing with saliva, and you have a full-on moment of pure bliss. That’s the one. That’s what I’m talking about.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and trying to find foods that have the best perfect bite ratio (PBR). One of the dishes that rates highest on my list is the good old bao bun. Traditionally called gua bau (before it was bastardised and monopolised by white people, who admittedly love anything that resembles a burger), bao originated in China, then was taken to the streets of Taiwan where it became a street food staple — and for good reason! Now you can find them everywhere, from beachside Asian fusion restaurants in Townsville to the Sunday farmers’ market in Hobart.
“Buy your bao buns pre-made. There’s no shame in it… we’re chasing perfect bites not kitchen meltdowns.”
It’s really no surprise that bao buns have taken the world by storm — when done right, they’re an absolute flavour bomb. Typically, you’ll find some variety of protein, cuddled up in bed with fresh veg and herbs, wrapped in a doona-soft steamed bread bun. We’ve got plenty of options for fillings here, too: fried chicken, sticky pork belly, or crunchy fried fish are common choices; or for the vegos, umami-rich mushrooms or golden fried tofu. There’s a bao bun for everyone — and if this isn’t making your mouth water, we need to have a long talk. Preferably after a bao or two. Thankfully, these perfect little clouds are simple enough to assemble, and you can be quite versatile in what fillings you’d like to add!
Here’s my go to bao bun recipe, which is always a hit with my friends. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a fried chicken fiend, so it should be no surprise that it’s my protein of choice for this little beauty. I also recommend buying your bao buns pre-made. There’s no shame in it — they’re quite tricky to make for first timers, and we’re chasing perfect bites not kitchen meltdowns.
Harry’s Fried Chicken Bao Buns (makes 12)
• 6 chicken thighs (not breasts! I will know, and I will hunt you down…)
• Coating stuff – I’ll leave that up to you but if you’re unsure, go panko
• Bao buns (in the freezer at an Asian grocer)
• Sesame seeds
• A spicy mayo – diy = Kewpie + Sriracha
1. Get all your vegies ready so you can assemble while the chicken is hot. Julienne your carrot, cabbage, and cucumber, and roughly chop the coriander so you get a nice big hit per bite.
2. Coat the chooky. Fry it.
3. Put it all in the bun.
4. Smash a good hit of spicy mayo.
5. Top with sesame seeds for flair.
6. Serve to your friends and hope you’ve made enough!
Follow Harry’s foodie adventures on Instagram @hazfos