A Sichuan Dish
Black Tea Meets Star Anise Meets Brown Sugar
This dish is adapted from the Sichuan classic Tea-Smoked Duck, substituting Game Hens for the larger bird. It has the intense, robust flavors characteristic of Sichuan, which transfer nicely to the smaller bird, or for that matter, can be used to prepare Chicken Breasts
Tea-Smoked Game Hens Tea-Smoked Game Hens 茶熏 茶子雞
Chinese – Fusion
2 Rock Cornish Game Hens, about 1½ pounds each, or
2 whole Chicken Breasts, about 1½ pounds each
2 tablespoons Shao Xing Chinese Wine
1½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 Star Anise
2 tablespoons minced fresh Ginger root
2 tablespoons minced Green Onions
2 teaspoons minced Garlic
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup coarse Black Tea Leaves
3 tablespoons Star Anise Seeds
1 more teaspoon Sesame Oil
Parsley or Cilantro for garnish, optional
First rinse and clean the Game Hens or Chicken, removing any fat globs. Dry well and set aside.
Prepare the Mixtures and set aside.
Put the Game Hens or Chicken Breasts in a large mixing bowl and rub all over with Mixture 1. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
Next day, separate away the skin from the body of the Game Hens to create a little pocket. Carefully stuff some of Mixture 2 into this pocket and use the rest of it to rub over the birds or breasts. Arrange them on a plate, breast side up and put into a bamboo seamer.
Put the steamer over a wok with water in it, and turn on medium fire. The Water should come up almost to the level of the steamer. Raise the heat to boiling and let them steam over boiling water until the juices run clear. it will take about 20 minutes. When the basic steaming is done, remove the plate from the wok, set aside and let it cool.
Pour the Water from the wok and wipe it clean and dry. Cover the inside of the wok with several layers of aluminum foil. Also line the inside of the wok lit with foil.
Put the Mixture 3 in the bottom of the wok and arrange four wooden chopsticks along the lower edges of the wok to make a steaming rack. Or you can use a round steaming rack, if your wok has one. The Game Hens or Chicken will go on this and it has to be above and not touching The Mixture.
Once the meat to be steamed is safely positioned turn on high fire and cover. A strong smoke odor should become evident after 5 to 10 minutes. After you notice it, use a timer to continue the smoking process for 5 minutes. After that time, remove the wok from the heat and let it stand covered another 5 minutes.
Remove the Hens or Chicken from the wok and brush the skin with the remaining Sesame Oil. Cut each bird or breast in half (a heavy Chinese cleaver works well for this), and arrange on a serving plate and serve immediately. Garnish with some Parsley or Cilantro if available.