This recipe for Tea Smoked Chicken in a Wok is an example of stove top smoking, a cooking technique that can used to infuse flavor quickly. The chicken is marinaded, browned, steamed and then smoked, ensuring a deep flavored, mahogany colored, smoky chicken.
My dad sometimes smokes food in the wok, a technique I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it unit recently. It turns out that this smoking technique is actually very easy. It requires simply a wok with a cover, aluminum foil, and a rack to hold whatever you’re smoking.
Once I got the hang of it, I made this Tea Smoked Chicken, Tea Smoked Salmon, and Smoked Avocado Tomato Guacamole. I’ve made this Tea Smoked Chicken a bunch of times for family and friends and it has received rave reviews from everyone that’s tried it.
The technique is pretty straightfoward. The wok and the cover are lined with aluminum foil, and the smoking ingredients are placed in the bottom of the wok. In this case, my smoking ingredients were rice, oolong tea, brown sugar, star anise, ginger and cherry wood chips. The rice keeps the tea from burning too quickly, and the brown sugar helps promote the smoke. Star anise, ginger and cherry wood add nice flavors.
Making this Tea Smoked Chicken is a three step process, but it is well worth it. You will end up with a beautiful, deep colored, moist smoked chicken. For color and flavor, the chicken is marinated overnight and then browned in a pan. To keep the smoking time fairly short so that the chicken has a nice delicate smoky flavor, and to retain moisture, the chicken is steamed before it is smoked. Finally, the chicken is smoked in the wok for just 20 minutes to infuse just enough smokiness.
I use Yondu in this recipe, although you could use low-sodium soy sauce. Yondu is a new Korean sauce that I learned about during the Culinary Exploration Workshop I participated in over the summer. It is made with fermented soybeans and pollen extract. It does contain wheat extract, so if you’re gluten-free, substitute low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce for Yondu in this recipe.
Wok Tea Smoked Chicken
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Youndoo sauce or 1/4 cup low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 pounds chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup uncooked rice
- 1/4 cup oolong tea leaves
- 1/4 cup cherry wood chips
- 4 slices ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
In a large bowl, mix together Youndoo sauce, rice wine and cornstarch. Add chicken pieces and toss well to coat all the pieces. Let marinate overnight.
Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Brown chicken on both sides, about 7-8 minutes. Remove to a heatproof dish.
Prepare a steamer for the chicken. Steam chicken for 30 minutes over medium heat.
Double line the inside of a wok with foil. Line the inside of the wok cover with foil. Mix smoking ingredients together and place in bottom of foil lined wok. Place a cake rack over smoking ingredients and arrange chicken on the rack. Once you see smoke coming up, cover the wok and turn the heat down to medium-low. Smoke 15 minutes. Turn heat off and wait 5 minutes. Remove chicken from wok.
Adapted from Martin Yan's Feast
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
Beautiful chicken! To be honest, I probably won’t ever take the time to make it, but I love the idea of wok smoking.
Thanks Lydia – it is a bit of a process, but the end result is wonderful.
Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says
The result is beautiful! I just wonder about the creation of HCAs and PAHs from the heat/smoke effect.
Thanks Kelly – I thought about that as well. To be honest, not sure as the chicken is cooked through by the time it is smoked (so most of the fat has drained off from the steaming process), and it is not smoked for very long relative to most smoked meats. In any event, this is not something I make everyday nor would I suggest eating every day.
Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says
and it’s a great excuse to enjoy a big batch of delicious veggies/antioxidants on the side ;-). Lovely chicken Jeannette!
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
Oh wow, Jeanette! I bet this chicken has the most amazing, smoky-sweet flavor. What a killer recipe!
Thanks Georgia – this is a keeper – your guests will be really impressed. I made 3 batches the first time I tried it because it was so good. Everyone and anyone stopping by my house that day wanted a bite.
I’ve never tried wok smoking but it sounds like it adds so much flavor to the chicken. Love how colorful and flavorful the chicken looks and the Tea smoking mix sounds fantastic! Great recipe, thanks for sharing Jeanette:)
I know you’ve posted about stovetop smoking before but I will never cease to think it is super cool!! It’s amazing how much great smoky flavor you can add that way!
Jeanette, your dishes are truly droolworthy. I’ve never smoked a chicken before, you’ve give some very good instructions to do so on the stove top. Love how it looks.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I think this is what my husband likes! At first I didn’t realize as the one we order has more like sauce on top (so it is wet chicken), and lighter color too. He’d be so happy if we can make it at home as we only order occasionally. You have so many good chicken recipes, Jeanette!
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
What a great idea, Jeanette. Do you think I can use sea salt instead of rice? I love how golden brown and delicious these chicken look!
Thanks Angie – I’ve never tried using sea salt in smoking, but it might work to help slow down the burning of the tea which is the purpose of the rice. Let me know if you try it, I’m curious if it works.
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
I’m so going to try this wok smoking technique!! The chicken looks so delectable, thanks for sharing the tips Jeanette!
Kiran – hope you have a chance to try it. It’s worth the effort.
EA-The Spicy RD says
This looks delicious Jeanette! I love the idea of smoking food in my wok. Thanks for the great tips!!
Thanks EA! I can’t believe it took me this long to try using my wok to smoke. Much easier than I thought it would be.
Hi Jeanette! I saw that EA had pinned this on the very day I was tea-smoking some tofu! What a coincidence, especially as I had never done so before. The burnished look of your chicken is stunning. I can pracitally conjure up its smell and taste right now. 😀 I didn’t marinate my tofu but I did press it of moisture (may freeze and defrost next time though) then smoked it in the wok with rice, lapsang souchong and brown sugar for just five minutes. Then I baked it slicked with sesame oil for 15 minutes to firm up more and get some more colour. I will *definitely* try your concoction with chicken though. It sounds pretty amazing. PS Thanks for visiting my blog earlier and leaving such a nice comment.
Hi Kellie – love the idea of tea-smoking tofu – I’ll have to give that a try. I bet a similar method using tofu would be really good. Thanks for stopping by to say Hi!
Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen says
Jeanette, this is WILD! Many thanks for sharing your father’s smoking technique in a wok. I simply cannot wait to try this! I love star anise (it is so under utilized in cooking) and am a big fan of ginger. Thanks for such a wonderful post!
Stacy – you must give this a try!
Jen Miller says
I really love the idea of wok smoking! Can’t wait to try this recipe.Thank you! Jen
Jen – hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s really good!