Savoury

Tea-smoked Chicken with Crunchy Asian Slaw

Tea is so much more than a beverage. It’s an ingredient that can be used in cooking to create exciting sweet and savoury dishes. I use a black Ceylon tea as part of a smoking mixture over which Chinese-spiced chicken breasts are hot-smoked.

Smoking is a technique that is often neglected in the everyday kitchen, probably because it seems fiddly and time-consuming. Sure, the process may seem daunting but really, it’s easier than you think and creates the most sensational flavour character that makes a simple chicken breast sexier than Sinatra.

Serves 4

1 tbsp black peppercorns

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

½ tsp Chinese five-spice

1 tbsp sea salt

40g loose Black Ceylon tea leaves

2 tbsp dry white rice

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

4 chicken breasts, skinless (organic if possible)

2 carrots

½ purple cabbage

2 spring onions

Asian salad leaves

3 tbsp tamari (or soy-sauce)

½ tbsp honey

½ tbsp rice wine vinegar

¼ tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp red birds-eye chili, finely chopped

¼ tsp garlic, crushed

Stir peppercorns, chili flakes, five-spice, and salt in a small pan over low heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Coat chicken breasts with spice mix and set aside. Line a wok with a double piece of foil. Place the tea, sugar, and brown sugar onto the foil, stir to mix up a bit, and then place a wire rack (I used a cake cooling rack) into the wok. Heat the wok, covered with its lid on, over a medium to high heat until small wisps of smoke appear. Quickly open the wok and place the spice-rubbed chicken breasts onto the rack. Put the lid back on the wok and smoke the chicken for approx. 5-10 mins. Remove from heat. The chicken should be slightly bronzed in colour. Set aside and allow to rest while you prepare the salad.

For the salad, slice the cabbage into strips. Slice the carrot into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Slice the spring onion on the diagonal. Combine carrot, cabbage, and onion in a bowl with the Asian salad leaves. Set aside. Whisk together the sesame seeds, tamari, honey, vinegar, oil, chili and garlic in a separate bowl. Drizzle over prepared vegetables and toss to combine. Divide among plates and top with the sliced smoked chicken. Garnish with finely sliced carrot and pickled ginger.

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