Tea Smoked Chicken

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr 16 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 4 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 16 min
  • Yield: about 40 hors d'oeuvres servings
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1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/4 cup white rice

3 tablespoon Chinese black tea

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Shao-sing wine or medium-dry sherry

2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark (see Cook's Note)

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

5 scallions (white and green), thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 head iceberg lettuce

Sriracha sauce or other Asian chili sauce, to taste

Juice of 1/2 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.
  5. To serve: Dice the chicken into very small pieces. Toss with the scallions 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 2 teaspoons 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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