Peking Chicken

Oh how I so wish that the title of this post was Peking Duck, not Peking Chicken….sigh….while I’ll go to any lengths to satisfy my cravings, this one was just a little too involved. I mean, I’d have to go buy a frozen duck, defrost it, air-dry in front of a mighty fan for 4 hours, roast it and then eat.  So, this was my little “make-do” – using chicken breasts. And yes, I know its supposed to be Pancakes, not Steamed Buns, but heck, I really yearned to sink my teeth into a steaming hot, soft bun. On top of that, I wanted to show my kids that it was really the Chinese who invented the hamburger.

Naturally, I called my Mom. “Hi Mom! Can you teach me to make Steamed Buns?”

“You bery hungwy?”


“Ok, do lazy shortcut! Go to store, buy Pews-bewry dough in can. Make steam bun.”

So, off to the store I went, in search of the Pews-bewry dough in can. Wait. Did she say breadsticks? croissant? extra buttery stab me with a butter churn waiting for heart attack dinner rolls? Hmmm…..pwobee betta buy craw-sant.

Ooooh….no. Steaming the croissant was a disaster. Result was a globby mess of greasy disks. Time for PLAN B….luckily I had this:

Bun Flour

It’s in Vietnamese, which I can’t read, but has English directions. Basically, I think the translations says, “Betta dan steam craw-sant stupid girl.”

Yes….it worked beautifully. But I wonder why my Mom told me to get the Pillsbury in a can? She’s never steered me wrong. Is she getting old and getting her recipes mixed up? It wasn’t until the next day:

“Oh, I find recipe-ah! Pews-bewry butta-milk bis-cit!”

Update 7/2/12 I FINALLY had a chance to try Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuit as a cheater steamed bun – AMAZING RESULTS! – See recipe for Pork Belly Buns

Peking Chicken

Peking "Chicken"

(a.k.a Chinese Hamburger!)


  • 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 3 slices of ginger, smashed with side of knife
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Steamed Bun (makes approximately 12 buns - look on the package for specifics):

  • 1 package of steamed bun mix (I used D&D Gold)
  • 12 squares of parchment or wax paper, 4"x4"
  • sesame oil & pastry brush

To Serve:

  • 1 English or Japanese cucumber, cut into very thin julienned strips, soaked in 1 cup ice cold water, drain before serving
  • 3 stalks green onion, cut into the thinnest possible shavings, soaked in 1 cup of ice cold water. drain before serving
  • 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce


  • Using the tines of the fork, prick holes through the skin and meat of the chicken. This allows for the marinade to seep through. Combine all the rest of the ingredients and marinate the chicken breasts for up to 4 hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the breasts, discard marinade, and pat the chicken very dry, especially the skin side. Heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in large oven proof fry pan on high heat. When oil is hot, place chicken, skin side down in the pan. Fry until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. (tip: don't move the chicken when you are frying it. just leave it alone and let it fry to crisp up) Turn skin side up and place oven proof fry pan in the oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through. Timing really depends on how thick your chicken breasts are. I always use a quick read thermometer to check the chicken about 80% of the way through - internal temperature of the chicken breast should be 160 degrees. This method beats guessing and assures me that I don't overcook the chicken. Also, if you don't have an oven proof fry pan, just transfer the chicken to roasting pan or baking sheet.
  • Remove from pan and let rest on cutting board for 10 minutes. Carefully cut the chicken breast into thin 1/2" slices - try cutting on the diagonal to get nice, long, thin slices.

Steamed Bun:

  • Follow package directions on mixing and kneading the dough.
  • After letting dough rest for 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a long log, about 1-1/2" in diameter. Using a knife or pastry scraper, cut dough into 12 equal sized "golf ball" sized pieces. While working with one piece, keep the rest covered under a towel.
  • Roll one piece in the palms of your hands to make a nice, smooth ball. Roll out into a circle with a rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter 3" wide (or get a small canned food item, open top and bottom and use that as a cutter. thats was my improvisation) to cut the dough into an even circle. Using the back of your knife, gently crease the middle of the circle (careful not to cut all the way through - just a little crease). This is your folding mark - the crease will help keep the bun folded while steaming. Fold the dough in half on the crease. Place the dough on the parchment paper. Brush surface with a little bit of sesame oil. Cover with towel. Repeat with rest of dough.
  • Place all dough in bamboo steamer, making sure that they aren't too crowded and that they don't touch. Steam for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit undisturbed for another minute. 5. Just before serving, re-steam for an additional 2 minutes to warm up the bun. Its best served steaming hot and in the bamboo steamer to keep them all warm.

To Eat:

  • Open bun up (careful not to break it apart!), slather some Hoisin sauce, add 3 slices of chicken, a few cucumber strips, some green onion shavings. Open mouth wide. Eat your Chinese Hamburger.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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