Monday, November 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Tea

Blog-checking lines: Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry. 

We drink a lot of tea.  While we have favorites (Chai and Vanilla Earl Gray) we also have a lot of variety in our cupboard.  Some days just call out for a certain tea flavour. Even Liam enjoys a nice cup of Rooibos tea before bed.

I was intrigued by this challenge.  I knew very little about cooking with tea.  Hilary had made a Chana Masala dish some time ago where she soaked the chickpeas in chai tea to flavour them before cooking, but that was the only savoury dish made with tea that I think I've ever had.

Sarah from Simply Cooked provided us with 3 recipes but I decided to do some research on my own before committing to anything.  That is how I came across the recipe for "Tea Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Latkes" on the Food Network website.  Since one of the reasons I joined The Daring Kitchen was to push myself in the kitchen, I decided to try it for 3 reasons: 1) it had tea; 2) I don't really like salmon and had never cooked it before and 3) smoking was a new cooking technique that I figured would challenge me even further.

First things first, I had to get some tea.  The recipe called for either Oolong or Black Lychee.  We may have a lot of variety in our tea cupboard, but we didn't have either of these.  Hilary enjoys Oolong, but I find it too strong and smoky for my taste.  Luckily our local mall has a newly opened tea shop, so I was able to go and sniff a few options before I settled on High Mountain Oolong.

The next step was to marinade the salmon.  It's a mixture of mirin, sugar, ginger and peppercorns.

Then I mixed the tea with sugar and rice. 

The recipe said to line the bottom of your pot with tin foil before placing this mixture in.  I almost skipped this step.... good thing I didn't! The sugar caramelized/burnt and the whole mixture was one solid mass by the end.  The only way to get it out of the pot was to lift out the tin foil.

While the salmon was smoking, I made the potato latkes.  It involved mashed potatoes mixed with green onions, horse radish and wasabi that were formed into patties, dredged in flour, dipped in egg and then coated in Panko bread crumbs.

The recipe then called for deep frying them, but I simply pan fried them in a deep skillet.

The end result:
Even I liked the salmon! I was worried at first because when I took the salmon out of the pot the escaping smell of smoked tea was overwhelming in the kitchen.  I thought that if the fish tasted anything like the smell that I wouldn't like it.  But the taste was much more subtle.  You could still taste the tea, but it did not over power the salmon.  The latkes were amazing, and I think they will become part of our regular rotation of potato options. They were even good cold the next day.

I'm feeling much more comfortable in the kitchen these days.  Thanks Daring Kitchen!!

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