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