Preparation / Directions:
Here's the first installment of what has turned into quite a series of posts on Chinese Smoke Cooking. I've still got a few more recipes to type in, but this on will get you started...
This is the Chinese version of "smoking". It would better be called "smoke cooking" as the process is much shorter than Western style smoking. This first recipe is fairly complex and lengthy in that it will take three days or so for all the steps. It involves dry marinating, steaming and the actual smoking of the duck. This recipe is from Ken Hom's "Chinese Technique" which is profusely illustrated with photos. You'll have to use your imagination a bit...
Salt and five-spice powder make a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate the bird. The marinated duck is then steamed to firm and cook it, then is finished by deep- frying or smoking. Chicken and squab may also be prepared this way.
1. Press down hard on the duck's breastbone to flatten it.
2. Rub the dry marinade over the trimmed duck.
3. Rub the dry marinade inside the cavity.
4. Put the duck on a baking sheet and cover it with another flat sheet.
5. Weight down the top sheet with a pot filled with water to flatten the duck and to make it release some of its own moisture. Let it marinate like this, in a cool place or in the refrigerator, for 2 days. Use the marinated duck to make Smoked Tea Duck, or steam it for 2 hours to cook and render all the fat. Let it sit a room temperature for several hours to dry then deep-fry in about 4 cups oil until crisp.
SMOKED TEA DUCK: This is a cold dish that can be prepared well in advance: in fact, we find that ducks smoked 2 days in advance are more flavorful. Reduce the steaming time according to the size of the bird: allow 15 minutes per pound for chicken, 30 minutes for squab.
The smoking process doesn't actually cook the duck. It adds flavor to a duck already cooked by steaming and changes the texture of the flesh to something similar to that of ham. A covered barbecue grill (such as any of the kettle-type barbecues on the market) is perfect.
1 whole duck, 5 to 6 pounds, trimmed, dry marinated for 2 days 6 slices fresh ginger root, cut into 3-inch sections 6 whole scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces FOR SMOKING: 1 cup raw long-grain rice 1 cup dark Chinese tea leaves 1/2 cup brown sugar or hickory chips Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer May be smoked up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve. Allow to reach room temperature.
Suggested beverage: Young, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo
1. Stuff the cavity of the duck with the ginger and scallions.
2. Steam the duck for 1 hour 15 minutes (for a 5-pound duck) to 1 hour 30 minutes (for a 6-pound duck) to draw out the fat and to cook the duck gently, keeping it moist. Drain the duck and remove the ginger and scallions.
[If you don't have a steamer, you can improvise one by putting an upside down bowl or flattish can with both ends removed in a stock pot and then putting the duck on a plate on the can. Fill the pot up to just below the plate, cover tightly and steam. S.C.]
3. Make a bed of charcoal in the barbecue and ignite it. When the surface turns to ash, set a metal pie plate containing the smoking ingredients on the coals.
4. Cover it with a grate and set the duck on the grate.
5. Cover the grill an smoke the duck for 45 to 50 minutes, turning it every 10 to 15 minutes to brown it evenly. Check the coals periodically to make sure they don't die down.
That's it. I serve this with hot mustard, hoisin sauce and chopped green onions for dipping. And rice of course.
From "Chinese Technique" by Ken Hom with Harvey Steiman. Simon and Schuster, New Yo