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Crisp-Fried Sichuan Salt and Pepper Fish Bao Buns

Crisp-Fried Sichuan Salt and Pepper Fish Bao Buns

These handheld morsels are an entertainers delight or even better weekend lunch option for when only the best will do.

Crisp-Fried Sichuan Salt and Pepper Fish Bao Buns

Serves 4 (makes 8)

Bao Bun
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
30ml warm milk
Pinch caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp peanut oil, plus extra for brushing
3 tsp rice vinegar
150ml water

Sichuan Salt and Pepper
3 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 dried red chilli
3 tbsp sea salt

Fish
½ cup corn flour
¼ cup plain flour
700g flathead fillets, skinless and boneless, cut into 3 lengths
1 tbsp fish sauce, plus 1 extra tsp
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Slaw
2 carrots, shredded
3 cups Chinese cabbage, shredded
⅓ cup coriander leaves, chopped
½ cup Kewpie mayonnaise
2 tsp lime juice
Coriander leaves, to garnish
Siracha, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Make the bao buns by placing flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Combine milk, caster sugar and yeast in a small jug. Add to flour along with oil, rice vinegar and water. Stir with a fork until a dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until you have a soft smooth dough.

Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Coat in oil. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Knock back dough to expel air. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Cover and rest for 5 minutes. Roll out each ball using a rolling pin, to create a 8 x 10cm oval. Brush with oil. Place an oiled chopstick in the centre of each oval. Fold over the dough and remove chopstick. Transfer to a lightly floured baking paper lined tray. Cover and rest for 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Place buns in a bamboo steamer lined with baking paper. Cook in 2 batches for 10 minutes or until puffed and firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, make Sichuan salt and pepper by dry frying peppercorns, coriander and star anise. Cool. Add to a mortar with chili and salt. Grind with a pestle. Combine mix with flours. Place the fish, 1 tbsp fish sauce and garlic in another bowl. Toss to combine. Dust fish in flour mixture. Shake off excess. Shallow in fry in batches over a medium heat. Drain on paper towel.

To make slaw, combine carrot, cabbage, coriander, fish sauce, mayonnaise and lime in a bowl.

Fill buns with slaw, fish and coriander. Serve with Sriracha and lime wedges.

Smart tip: Proving times for bun will vary depending on temperature.

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