When I was home this Thanksgiving my mother taught me how to make Vietnamese steamed chicken buns based on a Charles Phan’s recipe we found at my sister’s house (cookbook highly recommended). I did my own variation at home that was a little more simplified, and baked (which doesn’t require large steamers, and tastes better reheated). I took out a few of the ingredients and also substituted in ground turkey which is easier to find at your local grocery store.
What you’ll need (recipe makes 16 buns):
3 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 packet of active dry yeast
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 beaten egg (for egg wash before baking)
1 pound ground turkey (not too lean)
1 large white onion minced
1-3 shallot onions minced, depending on size
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of shallot oil
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1.) Dissolve sugar into warm water, then add yeast and let sit for 10 minutes (don’t stir). The mixture should foam up – if not, you can assume your yeast is not active and should restart the mixture with new yeast.
2.) Combine mixture with sifted flour and oil and knead for 10 minutes. Note: I used my dough hook on my Cuisinart for the first time and found I still had to knead it in the end. It saved me about 6 or 7 minutes of kneading but probably still not worth the clean up.
3.) Form your kneaded dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, making sure the entire ball is coated in oil (to prevent the outside from hardening). Cover bowl and dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Note: I usually warm the oven to 175 degrees, turn off, and then place dough in the oven to rise.
4.) While the dough rises, sauté garlic in the shallot oil in a large skillet for about 30 seconds or until garlic is brown. Add in minced shallot and white onions and toss/saute until browned. Combine sauteed onions with the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well.
5.) After dough has risen (should have doubled in size), punch down dough and form into a long tube shape; then cut into sixteen pieces. Keep dough from drying out by placing a damp paper towel over them while you roll them out one by one.
6.) Before rolling, form the single-bun-sized portion of dough into a tight ball, then place on rolling surface and press lightly down. Only roll out the edges of the ball, working clockwise, constantly rotating your dough as it expands. This will help keep the center of the dough should be much thicker than the edges.
7.) Place dough in your left hand (or non-dominant hand) and add 1/16th of your filling mixture to the center of the dough. Pinch dough counter-clockwise with your right had as illustrated in this video, until the dough is completely sealed around your filling. Note: Since I am still terrible at this, as illustrated by the sad picture below, I turned all my buns upside down so you just saw the smooth pretty side. Tastes the same, I swear.
8.) Space out completed buns on a lined cookie sheet and let rise for 30 minutes before baking.
9.) Using a brush, spread a thin layer of beaten egg over buns to add a nice golden finish.
10.) Cook in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm and enjoy!