I’ve always been curious about smoking.
No, not cigarettes, but the cooking technique.
I love the subtle ‘lift’ smoke can bring to a dish and the wonderful earthy flavours that seem to go hand in hand with poultry.
I didn’t realise smoking was as simple as throwing together tea leaves, rice and sugar on a stove. I gave this technique a spin using some lovely quail from Game Farm, which are bred and grown locally in the Upper Hunter Valley.
I was really pleased with the results, the quail had an even smoke and golden caramel colour. Though my kitchen did smell like burnt cigarettes at one stage!
Oolong tea smoked quail
Adapted from Patricia Yeo
2 tablespoons Sichuan pepper
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely diced ginger, skin on
6 whole quail
1/2 cup oolong tea leaves
1/2 cup demera or raw sugar
1/2 cup raw rice
Strip of orange zest
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1. Combine the pepper, salt, zest, and ginger in a bowl. Rub the marinade all over the quail, inside and out, and set aside for two hours.
2. Line a large, deep pot, such as a stock pot or an old wok, with a generous amount of foil. Make sure the inside is completely covered and there is a foil overhang of about 3 to 4 inches. Line the lid with foil. Place the smoking ingredients in the bottom of the foil-lined pot. Place an oiled rack securely inside the pot, at least two inches above the smoking mixture (you can use empty tin cans to support the rack). Brush off excess marinade from each quail and place them on the rack.
3. Put the pot over high heat, and when the mixture begins to smoke, place the lid securely on the pot. Smoke for 5 minutes. Do not smoke for longer as it will overpower the quail and taste terrible.
4. Remove the pot from the heat to a well-ventilated spot, and loosen the foil slowly, pointing away from you so you are not hit with a blast of hot smoke. Cook the quail for a further 10-15 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees.
Thanks to Game Farm for the introduction to cooking quail at home!