Tea smoked chicken

Spice up your dinner date with these Chinese-inspired bites.

  • Preparation Time30 mins
  • Cooking Time16 mins
  • DifficultyMedium
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
Sriracha sauce or other Asian chili sauce, to taste
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped peanuts
5 spring onions (white and green), thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp soy sauce, preferably dark (See Cook's Note)
95ml Shao-sing wine or medium-dry sherry
2 tbsp brown sugar
45g Chinese black tea
65g white rice
450g boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp five-spice powder
Juice of half a lime


1) Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Cool slightly, and then crush in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle with the salt and five-spice powder until very fine. Rub seasoned salt all over the chicken thighs. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

2) Bring the chicken to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.

3) Line the bottom of a wok, skillet or heavy pot with a double layer of aluminum foil. Mix the rice, tea and brown sugar together and mound on the foil. Set a steamer on top, and evenly space the chicken on the rack. Cover and cook over high heat. Hot smoke the chicken until smokey-brown colored and cooked through, about 12 minutes.

4) While the chicken cooks, whisk the Shao-sing wine or sherry, soy, ginger, and sesame together in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes. Brush over cooked chicken.

To serve: Dice the chicken into very small pieces. Toss with the spring onions and peanuts in a medium bowl. Cut the lettuce leaves into 40 squares or triangular scoops. Place a drop of Sriracha on top of each lettuce cup, and top with about 10g of the diced chicken. Squeeze lime juice over the top, and drizzle the remaining soy-ginger sauce over the chicken. Serve.

Cook's Note: Dark soy sauce is thicker and lightly sweeter tasting than other soys. It adds a depth of flavor that is great with the chicken. It can be found in Asian markets or supermarkets with a good Asian section.

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