Sunday, April 1, 2012

chicken buns for colton

when sus asked me if i would be up for helping out with the making of chicken buns for colton's bday party, i said "sure". at first i thought the research phase would include visiting various dim sum places around the city, gathering steamed chicken bao buns, and then decide which elements we wanted to create a new bun. yet, then sus indicated that we were going to model the bun after OTD's chicken bun since that is something that colton eats on a regular basis. colton turns two tomorrow and i'm pretty certain that anyone and everyone associated with hapa has taken him to OTD to buy him a chicken bun at some point or another. myself included. taking inspiration from the OTD bun made things a bit easier and alas, i waited until the last minute to go get chicken buns from OTD that i ended up having to go to two locations on saturday to get them. yet, once i got them, sus texted me what she thought were the major components of the flavor profile and when i got home, and ate one....i texted her back some feedback.

this is a pic i texted to her along with some of my comments.....

as well as some things i saw in some cookbooks i have at home about viet influenced bao buns. i'm pretty nerdy.

then this morning, i prepped the chicken (mary's/pittman organic chicken thighs).....

and then met up with sus at the hapa kitchen....

where she already prepped the mushrooms and had the bao dough resting from the night before. she used a recipe that she's been using since she cooked in hawaii. 

while i prepped the cilantro, sus was prepping the ginger, yellow onion, green onion and such. then we mixed everything together.....adding nuoc mam, a soy-based sauce that richie made, and cornstarch (as the binding agent). there was a lot of discussion as we were doing this. 

yet, probably the most discussion occurred while we were taking the dough and making the buns. 

sus indicated earlier that she was going to rely on me figuring out how to make the twisty twirl and ensuring that it was sealed. i botched the first one and by the second one, i'd figured out how to make the twisty twirl. it was pretty funny how we were getting progressively better as we were making the buns. we were also having a good time laughing at ourselves during the process. one of the other vendors in the commercial kitchen that hapa shares made an unsolicited comment about how we seemed to be having a good time....which is true. this wasn't work....this was having fun making food for folks we care for.  

i'm pretty certain that we made over 30 buns....and i think if we had made more....we'd have gotten it down to the point where it would look fairly professional. it wasn't until the end where we were able to get a better idea of dough to meat ratio and the seal. sus was also the one who handled the steaming cooking of the buns which i am very thankful for. she already knew how long they needed to cook and the various resting periods that the buns needed.

also, if had to do it again, i'd chop the chicken into smaller pieces. the OTD buns have large chunks of chicken in it, but we were making smaller buns. yet, i was pretty happy with how it tasted, especially for a first try. i also made a comment to sus as we were making the buns how much i really liked the bao dough. it had a great feel and elasticity to it. i don't think i've handled so much dough since i was a teenager working in a pizza joint. it was funny how memories about handling dough were coming back despite the years that have gone by.

sus also made a huge bun just for colton and it was pretty funny as well. it is the one on the right side of the pic. the one on the left side is more for reference in terms of scale.

when we arrived at the party, it had been going for a while. richie was at the up burgers, sausages, and hot dogs. mrs hapa ramen made these uber cute sf giants cup cakes....

and a bit after we arrived, it was a lovely moment when we arrived to the party to see colton wanting to get at the huge bun. 

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