Tea Smoked Duck: What went wrong?
I setout to smoke a duck this weekend. I scalded it (vinegar, lemon, salt brine) after slashing the skin the night before. it air-dried fairly well: The skin was papery by the next morning.
I put it int he cooker at about 350, and set a pan of tea leaves off tot he side. My gola was a tea-smoked duck.
Alas...not to be. The duck stayed...pale. Really pale. I added more tea. Still pale.
I soaked some oak chips and added them to the coals. Finally: Smoke. End result was a smoky, crisp-skinned duck. Amazing color and skin.
The duck came out great, but why didn't the duck get ANY color from the tea?
Westy, this famous Sichuan dish is quite complicated! I think the dark color actually comes from deep frying! The recipe I've seen for this calls for four steps: First a 12-hour marinade in salt, Sichuan peppercorn and Xiao Shing Rice Wine. Then scald the duck with boiling water. Second step is smoking. Lining a wok with tin foil and then placing flour and sugar on the bottom and then scattering the tea leaves. Turn heat on high. When the tea leaves start to smoke, then add the duck on a rack, breast side down and cover. Leave for 30 minutes, turning the duck once. You can turn the heat down, but make sure the tea leaves are smoldering. After 30 minutes the tea should be light brown. Third: The duck is steamed for one hour and left to cool. Fourth: Then the whole duck is fried in hot oil (350,) enough oil so at least half the duck is covered. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Now the skin should get crispy and dark brown. Then slice the duck as you like and serve.
re: Sam Fujisaka
I also do stove top smoking. I always add sugar to the tea and rice. As it caramelizes it browns the duck or whatever. I've used yellow rock sugar and brown sugar and white sugar, with the best results coming from yellow rock sugar. Didn't like brown sugar as much as it added a molasses like flavor I wasn't looking for.