Smoking is essentially a controlled form of tainting food. Those with a taste for kippers and hot-smoked salmon may like to experiment with this method before investing in a home smoke box for their personalized smoked garlic (nice), bloaters (quite nice) or lamb (not nice at all), all of which can be bought at a premium price in fancy shops these days.
Hot tea smoking is easy and requires no special equipment. The technique bears a strong resemblance to steaming, with pressure from hot smoke cooking and flavouring the fish in just a few minutes. Differences in the tea used and the temperatures reached will affect the final flavour. With a little modification, this treatment also suits larger and more firmly textured fish. For example, monkfish cut into slices and brushed with grapefruit juice produces a fine result.
Fillet the fish or – better – have someone else fillet it. Brush the fillets with the lemon juice and sesame oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Line the bottom of a wok or other deep pan with a folded square of kitchen foil and put in the tea, rice and sugar.
Place the fish on a steamer, wire rack or trivet above the tea mixture. Seal with a tight fitting lid, or more foil.
Cook at a high heat for 5 minutes, then switch off the heat and leave the wok unopened for 20 minutes.
Serve with a salad dressed with a little sesame oil and lemon.
© 2000 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.