Saturday, 22 February 2014

Tea-Smoked Teriyaki Trout (or Salmon)

Smoking, Brining and Photo-Editing

No, I'm not talking 20 Marlboro...

I'm itching to get my smoker fired up (it's an eco smoker, which is essentially a cardboard box with metal shelves in it, and a fantastic little smoker in the bottom that burns for up to 10 hours and cold-smokes your food). I love that thing - it paid for itself on the first use, by smoking a side of salmon that I got half price (£10), with a variety of cheeses, sea salt and garlic bulbs using up the spare space.And then there was the home-made pastrami, marinated in spiced brine, cold smoked, then cooked sous vide... but more on all that another time. As a distraction from trying to make some kind of cool title photo involving forks and food, I was thinking about smoking in the house, in a wok (or possibly even large pan), something easy to do at home, where you don't really need special equipment. I've tea-smoked fresh-caught mackerel and teriyaki-marinaded trout on a barbeque before (recipe below), with a mix of tea, sugar and raw rice on some foil on top of the glowing coals, lid down once the smoke is going, then within a short time, luscious, smoky fish...

I was thinking of tea-smoking some duck breasts I bought last week, but didn't get around to it. And I was still thinking about smoking something indoors (rather than outside) yesterday. And the day before. And today. So, I'm going to do it...
Except instead of fish or duck, I'm going to (hot) smoke some chicken breasts in the wok, and instead of putting the tea in the smoke (you could do either, depending on what you've got in - see below), I'm going to put the tea in the chicken. Or at least try to.

So, I've just made a lovely strong pot of earl grey tea, with added soft dark sugar, sea salt (I'm making a 5% brine, i.e. 5g salt to 1 litre water ratios), orange peel and juice, and the chicken is sitting in it. Well, not exactly sitting, as it hasn't got any- well, it's chicken breasts. And hopefully, the magic of osmosis means that the flavours of the earl grey, accentuated by the orange will travel into the chicken. If you want to know more about brining, and how to calculate how much salt to water, and how long to brine things for etc. you could try looking here. There's a table here for brining times, resting times (which allows the salt etc. to more evenly diffuse throughout the flesh of whatever you've brined) and a few other tips for different meats, although I can't say what the results will be like, as I tend to consult things like McGee (and his disciples) and go from there.

And then I'm going to hot smoke it, in a FOIL-LINED wok (always best, so that you don't ruin your pan!) and go from there. I'm thinking it might be nice sliced, cold, in a salad with a bit of mango, and a dressing with maybe a little soy, honey, sesame oil, maybe a squeeze of orange, some toasted sesame seeds, and that's as far as the ideas go. If the chicken 'works' I'll develop it into an actual dish and put up the rest. If not, this post will get lost in the feed, except for when people look it up to have a go at the tea smoked trout (or salmon) - which I highly recommend, as it's incredibly more-ish - it's delicious cold the next day too!

So wish me luck, and if you hear the smoke alarm, you know where it's coming from...

                      Tea-smoked barbecued teriyaki trout

A very happy experiment which went right, when it was discovered the ‘smoking dust’ had been left at home (when on holiday), to give the trout (on the left of the photo) a smoky flavour using the principles of ‘tea-smoked duck’! Unbelievably tasty smoky-sweet-salty-trouty-sexiness!!!

6 trout fillets, pin-boned
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted (to serve)
2 tbsp tea leaves (rip open tea bags, if you like!)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice grains (uncooked)


3 tbsp mirin (should be gluten free, if authentic, but check label)
3 tbsp soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman - use tamari if cooking gluten free)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a wide dish, which will just fit the trout fillets. Stir to dissolve the sugar, than place the trout fillets in to marinade, for at least an hour or two if possible.

Fire up the barbeque (if you’re barbequing it! For best results, you need a barbeque with a lid on). Take a piece of foil, say around 3 feet long. Fold it in half, to get a double thickness, then fold each of the edges in 2 or 3 times, by about 1cm, and pinch upwards, to give you a kind of shallow ‘tray’.

Put the tea leaves, sugar and rice grains in your foil ‘tray’, and when the coals are ready to cook on, carefully place your foil ‘tray’ with the tea/rice/sugar directly on top of the coals, replace your BBQ grill, and put the lid down.

(You can see by the size of the teaspoon to the right, that you really don't need that much tea mix.)

Leave for a couple of minutes, until the tea mixture begins to smoke, then place your trout fillets (this is easier if you use some kind of removeable metal grill, or even cooling rack, rather than straight onto the BBQ, as it can be difficult to turn the trout fillets) onto the BBQ, with it’s smoky addition, and re-close the lid.

Meanwhile, place the rest of the teriyaki marinade into a small pan, and heat until reduced to a light syrupy glaze. Check the trout after a couple of minutes, and turn over, and replace the lid, until just cooked through.

Serve on a warmed plate, drizzled with the Teriyaki glaze and scattered with the toasted sesame seeds, and marvel at just how wonderful it tastes – will even convert seasoned trout-haters*!

Serving options – serve with shaved vegetable and wakame salad (to come) and steamed/boiled rice or noodles, with a little light soy sauce and toasted sesame oil for guests to optionally season their carb-fix with.

Rather than the tea/sugar/rice mix, an equally sexy smoky taste can be obtained by scattering a few handfuls of smoke dust (e.g. beech) on top of the coals, just before putting the trout on and closing the lid (literally JUST before, or it will be all smoked out if you leave it for a couple of minutes!).

If you’re not BBQing and want a tea-smoked effect, you could cook the trout in a wok, tea-smoke style (I have NOT tried this, but I’m going along the tea-smoked duck principles, which is what I applied to the BBQ when I realised we had no smoke dust!) – just line the bottom of the wok with foil (do NOT skip this part, or the tea/rice/sugar will make a very nasty burned mess on the bottom of your wok!), put in the tea/rice/sugar mix, heat until smoking, then put the trout fillets on the wok-rack above the smoking mixture, and put the lid over to contain, and leave until cooked through.

*May not strictly be true

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