This month's theme, "tasteTea" which was introduced to us by Clement from A La Cuisine! really got me excited. Thanks to Clement for hosting and I love the idea of showcasing a few entries each day. Although I do drink tea on a daily basis, I have not thought much about using them in my food. I have only eaten once in a Chinese restaurant called Purple Cane which specialises in dishes made from tea but that was quite sometime back. All I remembered about that meal was the dishes were all light, refreshing and healthy. Thus I started hitting those recipe books and the internet to understand more about cooking with tea.
During my research, I had some clear parameters on what I wanted to cook, it had to showcase chinese tea since that is my heritage and it had to have a healthy element which was the basis of drinking tea. Thus I settled on my trio of teeny weeny tea bites which uses jasmine tea and green tea.
Tea Smoked Salmon Sushi
Tea smoking seems to be one of the popular methods used in tea cuisine. You can mix whatever you wish into the mixture to be heated up to create smoke. In this recipe, I adapted from Flavours magazine, the salmon is smoked over a mixture of brown sugar, rice and jasmine tea. Alternatively you can use green tea mixed with orange peel or oolong tea leaves in your smoking mixture. Anything can be smoked; chicken, duck, poussin, tofu, prawns and salmon. I chose salmon as part of the theme for my sampler menu was seafood for that light taste.
The salmon smoked beautifully and smelt so wonderful. Smoking it gave the salmon a lovely brown tinge with the inside still pinkish. I decided to make some sushi with this salmon together with some suzuki seabass fillet sashimi and wakame. Instead of using the traditional nori (seaweed) wrapper for my sushi, I opted for slivers of daikon white radish that were a crunchy and fresh addition. This was topped with a touch of ebiko. The sushi tasted wonderful and the salmon was so full of flavour and tender. Splashie Boy loved the combination and even my kitty, Ally wanted a piece of it since it smelt so nice! (We had to fight her off from stealing the sushi during the photosession time)
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (I used mirin since I did not have any rice wine)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2.5 cm younger ginger, grated
generous pinch of five spice powder
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, roughly crushed
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
salt to taste
150g jasmine tea leaves
150g soft brown sugar
Mix the smoking ingredients together. Line a wok with two layers of foil and place the smoking mixture on top of the foil. Lightly oil a steel rack with holes and place it over the mixture. Cover the wok and heat it until it starts to smoke. This should take about ten minutes.
Place the fish on the rack. Replace the lid and wrap damp tea towels tightly around the edge to prevent smoke from escaping. Smoke the fish over a medium heat of ten to fifteen minutes or until cooked.
To assemble the sushi: slice slivers of the daikon white radish with a vegetable peeler. Cut a piece of the tea smoked salmon. Cut a piece of seabass fillet sashimi (I used ready cut sashimi so I rolled them instead since they were quite thinly sliced. If slicing them yourself, cut it into chunks) Assemble tea smoked salmon on top of the daikon radish, add a bit of wakame at it's side. Place the seabass fillet next to the salmon and roll up the radish. You can tie it up using a piece of chive (soft part). Sprinkle some ebiko on top of the sushi and serve.
Baked Wakame Tart with Seared Green Tea Scallop
I was inspired to make a green tea salt after watching one of Jamie Oliver's television shows where he made some rosemary and lemon salt. Not sure which episode it was but I remember he had an Elvis Presley impersonator over for lunch so he made the salt to go with chips. Initially I thought of a green tea and ginger salt but after I mixed up the ingredients, I felt the ginger overpowered the delicate smell of the green tea. Instead, I re-mixed another batch just solely made from green tea and it was aromatic and light.
I had recently purchased a new cookbook, Simple by Jimmy Chok so I borrowed the idea for a wakame tart from him. In his recipe, he uses puff pastry but in my version, I cheated a bit and used a ready made pastry case. This was baked in the oven until it was hot and crispy, then sprinkled with some wakame and topped with a seared salmon sprinkled with my green tea salt.
Grind one teaspoon of green tea leaves till a powder in a mortar and pestle. Add slightly than one teaspoon of sea salt crystals to the green tea. Grind the sea salt and mix with the green tea.
Puff pastry, cut into a small circle about 2.5cm diameter
2 grams of wakame
Green tea salt as above
Bake the pastry in an preheated oven at 180C for about 4 minutes. (If using ready made pastry case, follow the manufacturer's instructions) Remove and top with wakame. Return to oven and bake further until pastry is cooked. Season the scallop with the green tea salt. Heat the oil and sear the scallop over high heat. Place scallop on top of tart, sprinkle with some green tea salt and garnish with some green tea before serving.
Prawn, scallop and green tea wanton served with a broth perfumed with green tea
20 grams prawns, peeled and chopped
20 grams scallops, chopped
5 grams of shallots, peeled and chopped
Green tea leaves, infused and chopped
One stalk of chives, chopped finely
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
Chicken broth made from chicken bones, peppercorns, bayleaves, carrot, onion and celery
Make the chicken broth by boiling chicken bones, a few peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped stick of celery, 1 chopped onion for about two hours. Skim the surface of the stock to rid it of impurities. It is preferable you make the broth a day ahead so you the oil in the stock can rise and be removed easily. Before serving the broth with the wanton, add some green tea leaves into an infuser and boil it. This will give the broth a tinge of tea in it's taste.
Infuse dried green tea leaves for about five minutes. Remove the tea leaves which will unfurl into small buds or leaves. Chop them finely and mix them into the wanton mixture. Spoon a bit of the mixture on a round shaped wanton skin, fold them halfways to enclose the filling. Poach the wanton in some simmering salted water and scoop out onto a bowl or a plate. Add a bit of the infused chicken broth on top and serve with a garnishing of green tea leaves.