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Bao Bun (Tempura Prawn)

Bao Buns are definitely having a moment. These heavenly buns are steamed and filled with tender shrimp. They may look like a small appetizer, however; they are a filling meal.

These tasty boa buns are steamed and stuffed with crispy tempura shrimp and pickled vegetables. It’s a simple meal but it is bursting with flavor.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Rising Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Servings: 10

Ingredients For the pickled vegetables:

• 1 cup cucumber, julienned

• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

• 1 small onion, sliced thinly

• 1 cup cabbage, shredded

• 1 cup carrot, julienned

• 2 jalapenos, sliced

• ½ cup water

• ½ cup granulated sugar

• 1 cup rice wine vinegar

• 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the boa buns:

• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

• 1/4 cup warm water

• 1/4 cup whole milk, warm

• 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

• 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 2 tablespoon olive oil

For the shrimp:

• 10 Black Tiger Prawns

• 1/4 cup cornstarch

• 3 cups vegetable oil

For the tempura batter:

• 1 large egg

• ¾ cup iced water

• 1 cup all-purpose flour


1. Whisk the water, granulated sugar, rice wine vinegar, and kosher salt in a large pot and place it over medium-high heat.

2. Cook the brine for 5-6 minutes until the sugar crystals dissolve and the brine comes to a boil.

3. Add the cucumber, red bell pepper, small onion, cabbage, carrot, and jalapenos to the brine and stir to combine.

4. Remove the pickled vegetables from the stove and allow it to sit for 1 hour.

5. To make the bao buns, whisk the all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

6. Combine the warm water, yeast, and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl and set it aside to bloom for 2-3 minutes until it is foamy.

7. Add the bloomed yeast to the flour along with the milk, sunflower oil, and rice wine vinegar.

8. Cut a sheet of parchment paper into 18 squares.

9. Mix the flour mixture until a dough forms, then turn the dough onto a lightly floured workstation.

10. Knead the bao bun dough for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth, then place it into a large bowl greased with olive or vegetable oil, cover it with a clean damp kitchen towel. Allow the bao bun dough to sit for 2 hours until it doubles in volume.

11. Invert the boa bun dough onto a clean workstation, flatten the dough slightly, sprinkle the baking powder on top, and knead it for 5 minutes.

12. Roll the boa bun dough long log about an inch in thickness and cut it into 18 even portions.

13. Cup each dough ball with the palm of your hand and dough into a long sausage shape. Allow the boa buns to rest for 3 minutes.

14. Flatten each bao ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape 1/8 inch in thickness. Brush the discs and a chopstick with olive oil. Arrange the oiled chopstick into the middle of each bao bun, fold the dough over the chopstick and slowly slide the chopstick out.

15. Place a boa bun onto each parchment paper square, place them onto a cookie sheet, cover the buns with a clean damp kitchen towel, and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours until they double in volume.

16. Arrange a steamer basket over a pot of water on a medium-high flame. Add the boa buns to the steamer basket and cook them for 8 minutes until they are puffy.

17. Cut a few slits on the underbelly of the shrimp. Holding the shrimp with both hands, gently bend it back to straighten it out. Place the shrimp onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

18. Pour the vegetable oil into a pot and heat it over medium-high heat until it has a temperature of 350ºF.

19. Sieve the all-purpose flour into a bowl and then whisk the egg and cold water into a separate container until it is fully incorporated. Gradually whisk the egg and water mixture into the flour just until the flour is moistened.

20. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tiger shrimp and toss to combine. Dust the excess cornstarch off and dredge the shrimp into the tempura batter.

21. Add 4-5 shrimp to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Drain the tempura shrimp on a wire rack and continue cooking the rest of the shrimp.

22. To assemble the shrimp tempura boa buns, drain the pickled vegetables.

23. Gently open a steamed bao bun, add the pickled vegetables and a tempura shrimp.

24. Serve and enjoy

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