Using tea as a smoking agent for meats is not a new concept. In fact, the Chinese have been doing it this way for centuries, and I find its rich, juicy flavor a winner for not only chicken, but salmon as well. This recipe may look complicated, but it's really not -- just a matter of careful timing and vigilance on the part of the chef. The first step involves steaming the chicken on a rack inside a wok (or a large saucepan if you don't have a wok). The second step brings the "smoking" mixture into the process, allowing the mixture to reach temperature, then turning heat off so the chicken sits and absorb the wonderful flavors of jasmine, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Perfect for a cold winter day. This recipe serves two, mostly due to space constraints in a wok. It pairs nicely with rice and a fresh salad.
2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin left on
2 Tbs Jasmine tea (loose tea)
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs long-grain rice
Heavy aluminum foil
A wok or large saucepan with a rack
- In a small bowl, mix loose tea, sugar, and rice. Set aside.
- Place the wok or saucepan on the stove and add 1 ½ - 2 cups water, and turn heat to high. Place rack in the pan or wok and place chicken on top. Cover and steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Tear off a piece of foil and fold and shape until it resembles a circle about 8 inches in diameter. It helps to fold up the sides a little bit to form a rim.
- Drain the pan or wok of initial drippings, and place back on stove. Place the foil creation in the bottom of the pan. - Add the smoking mixture to the top of the foil, and turn heat to high. Place rack back into pan.
- Rub the chicken pieces with sesame oil.
- When smoke starts to rise from the tea mixture, place the chicken back on the rack and cover.
- Heat on high for 5 minutes, then turn the burner off. Leave chicken covered for about 20 minutes.
- NOTE: Be sure chicken is fully cooked by piercing it with a sharp knife; juices should run clear. At this point you have a succulent and delightful treat, and I usually eat it at this point.
You can however, go one step further by removing the bones from the chicken, slicing, and returning to the wok with sesame or peanut oil, and frying until the chicken is a deep, rich brown. Add a dash of Szechuan pepper and salt to taste.