Tea-Smoked Five Spice Salmon
Tea-smoked salmon, seasoned with Chinese Five Spice, sounds complicated, but couldn't be simpler. It's a play off the traditional Chinese Tea Smoked duck, but lighter and less time consuming. Delicately flavored, the whisper of smoke from tea leaves, rather than wood, infuses the salmon with a subtle hint of earthiness. And using a wok and tea leaves, it's surprisingly fast, easy and quite manageable indoors. The smoking process, literally takes 8 minutes on the stove, then in the same wok, the baby bok choy is quickly seared. The salmon is served over a hearty bed of wok-seared bok choy and you have a very healthy, low carb dinner in no time. Once the fish has marinated the whole recipe can be completed in 20 minutes flat.
Last spring when Brian and I went to China, we were exposed to a whole new world of cooking, flavors and ingredients. We took several wok classes, visiting fresh markets beforehand, and learning about the local ingredients and how to prepare them. I came away with a new love for wok cooking. Not only for its ability to cook things quickly, but also for the way it treats vegetables like green beans, asparagus and bok choy, giving a little char, but leaving them brightly colored and still a little crunchy.
Using a wok to stove -top smoke is a another fun Chinese technique to try -and can be applied to all sorts of ingredients. In catering, we will often smoke tofu or mushrooms to give dishes added depth and interest. In this vegan ramen recipe I posted a while back, I show how to stove-top smoke shiitake mushrooms using a pot. So if you don't have a wok, know that you can also use a pot or deep saute pan with a lid. Once you understand the concept, it's pretty easy to improvise.
All you need for equipment to stove-top smoke is a wok ( or pot) , foil, and a vegetable steamer basket. Once you have everything set up, it's a snap.