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BIG BAOS / TAI PAOS

BIG BAOS / TAI PAOS

Hello hello, welcome to another blog with Mimi! ! It’s crazy to think it’s almost the end of the year, But nonetheless, my favorite time of the year. Sadly, I won’t be able to go to El Salvador this December, but usually when I go back home I tend to eat all the food that I can’t find here in Miami, one of them being Tai Paos made by our family’s restaurant. You might not know this but my grandparents are all Chinese that migrated to El Salvador, and in order to keep their culture alive they adapted local ingredients into Chinese dishes, the Tai Paos being one of them and I am so thankful for that. If you’re interested in other Chinese/Salvadoran recipes, let me know in the comments - they’re sooo good! 

Big Baos or in Cantonese: Tai Paos are these delicious fluffy buns filled with different fillings. The ones I'm familiar with are chicken, beef and sweet red beans, chicken being my ride or die. I’ve been craving them so badly that I'm going to attempt to make them for my very FIRST TIME. I’m sure these require quite a bit of practice, but I'll gladly share the lessons I learn along the way so you can try to make them at home.

I’m so excited to show you a little piece of my multi-cultural childhood, so join me as I give my 100% into making these. I also want to add a disclaimer, I’m doing this while holding my newborn in the baby carrier, so if they don’t come out right we’ll blame him for it :) 

The recipe is four 20 baos, because I have a big family and I like to use them as my guinea pigs, but this can definitely be cut in half to make 10.

Ingredients: 

  • 5 cups of Flour
  • 260 ml of Water
  • 2 tsp of Yeast
  • 200 ml of Warm Water
  • 2 tsp of Salt
  • 2 tsp of Sugar
  • 500g of Chicken Thigh chopped with knife
  • 8 Stalks of green onions (more or less as desired) 
  • 3 tbsp of grated Ginger
  • 3 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
  • 3 tbsp of Soy Sauce
  • 4 tbsp of Sesame Oil
  • 2 tsp of White Pepper

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Preparing the Dough and Filling

  1. First mix the yeast and warm water in a bowl, set aside while it activates
  2. In a large bowl add the flour, salt, sugar, water and yeast mixture and combine with chopsticks until the dough is flaky. Knead with your hand for around 15 mins, if it's too sticky you can light wet your hands. The dough should not be sticky and not too firm. Once the dough is smooth, cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for an hour or until it has doubled in size. 
  3. While the dough is resting we’re going to marinate the chicken, add the green onions, ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper and stir until ingredients are combined.
  4. Once the dough has finished rising, dust a clean surface with flour and knead the dough for 2 minutes to pop any air bubbles. Weigh and divide the dough in 20 similar sized balls. 

Assembling the Tai Paos

  1. Cut some squares of parchment paper to put under your Tai Paos to prevent the to stick to your steamer. 
  2. With a rolling pin, roll the edges and try not to roll the center. The center has to be thicker to hold the filling.
  3. Put around 2 to 2.5 tbsp of the chicken into the center and then fold the dough in half and then pinch the two remaining sides at the top together. Put a piece of  parchment paper under and put it in the steamer. 
  4. Once you’ve filled out the steamer, let the tai paos rest for 25 mins. In the meantime bring water to a boil. 
  5. Steam the dumplings for 15 mins, once the time is up turn off the heat and let them rest for 5 mins covered. **Do not skip this step or remove the lid, this will prevent the tai pao from shrinking.
  6. Enjoy them fresh out of the steamer :) or freeze them in a ziploc bag and microwave them when needed. 

Learning points: 

  • If you don’t have a large bowl, let me offer you a great option: the Drip Ez PrepTub, easy to clean, foldable and big enough mix dough! 
  • I could have definitely added more filling to mine, like a lot more - definitely try to put the 2 tbsp in there. It might seem that it doesn’t fit but it does and the dough is quite stretchy. 
  • I used a bamboo steamer, but you can use any steamer contraption that you have at home, just make sure to use your trusty parchment paper because tai paos tend to stick. 
  • Rolling the dough was a very humbling experience for my mom brain, there’s a good way to do it and you can find a lot of help in YouTube. Let me know if you have any tips on how to do it without looking like I'm massacring the dough.
  • Closing the tai paos also taught me that I’m not perfect. There’s a way to pleat them, but back home the ones I used to eat where smooth on top - no fancy pleating. 
  • You can definitely use ground chicken, but I find it that chopping my chicken (with a very sharp knife) is much better, its more moist and you just get those meatier pieces in each bite. 

CONCLUSION

I think it’s time for me to ask my family members to give me some lessons in Tai Paos. It was not a bad first attempt but there is definitely a lot of improvement and practice needed. Tastewise they were right on point, lookwise not so much haha. I also tried to do vegetarian ones with mushrooms for my husband and he loved them, so if you’re interested in that recipe just let me know and I’ll share it. 

Let me know in the comments if you give this recipe a try and what fillings would be good in them.

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