Hed Chef: Chicken bak bao
Less fatty option of the kong bak bao
I used to pooh-pooh the idea of using anything but pork belly for making kou rou bao - braised pork belly buns in Mandarin or kong bak bao in Teochew.
But I finally decided to try a chicken version, which turned out better than I expected.
Slathered in a thick luscious gravy, the braised chicken goes very well with frisee lettuce leaves.
I also like stuffing the buns with coriander and spring onions.
Upping the amount of greens helps keep the dish from feeling over-cloying.
Chicken also cooks much quicker, so it means less time hovering over the stove.
I choose to use deboned chicken quarters because the meat is more tender.
- 12 mantou (steamed buns)
- 1 head of frisee lettuce
- 6 deboned chicken quarters (with skins)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 10g ginger
- 15g galangal
- 10g spring onion
- 10g fresh coriander
- 3 pieces danggui (Chinese angelica)
- 3 pieces huai shan (Chinese yam)
- 3 pieces yuzhu (Solomon's Seal)
- 1 piece dangshen (codonopsis root)
- 1 piece of Mandarin orange peel
- 3 red dates
- 5 cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 cardamom
- 2 star anise
- 1 litre of water
- 1 tbsp potato starch mixed with 1 tbsp of water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 5 tbsp dark soya sauce
- 2 tbsp light soya sauce
- 1 level tsp salt
1. Rinse the cardamom, cloves, star anise and cinnamon. Dry fry until fragrant. Set aside. (A)
2. Bring the water to boil.
3. Place the danggui, huai shan, yuzhu, dangshen, orange peel and red dates in water and boil for 20 minutes. (B)
4. Halve each of the chicken quarters, keeping the skins on.
5. In a sturdy pot, spread the sugar in an even layer. Heat over low heat.
6. Once the sugar caramelises, add the chicken pieces to brown. Add the boiled herbs and water.
7. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and star anise (C)
8. Add the garlic, ginger, galangal and some of the coriander and spring onion.
9. Add the dark and light soya sauces and salt.
10. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.
11. Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the mixture, reserving the braising liquid.
12. Bring the liquid to a boil. Stir in the potato starch and water mixture to make it thicken. Use this as gravy.
13. Assemble the buns by putting one piece of chicken, frisee leaves, fresh coriander and spring onions in each.