As a kid, I was always tired of having the same reunion dinner dishes year after year. So when it was time for me to take charge of this matter, our reunion dinners went through a metamorphosis. For years, depending on my level of inspiration, we had hakka themed dinner, Japanese dinner, vegetarian dinner, yong tofu dinner, a dinner that consisted of all kinds of wraps and lately, a 'tea' dinner.
I decided to stretch my creativity to the max and prepare a table full of dishes using tea as the main ingredient, with full belief that I have a latent culinary talent waiting to be exploited. Needless to say, my extended family unwittingly became my captive diners.
With a little reading up, I was able to pair various teas with different meats to much success. Even though the 2 hour dinner took an entire day to prepare, the empty dishes was an affirmation of my effort and I slept that dinner, utterly pleased with myself.
I have learnt that :
Robust meats like duck goes well with oolong tea, seafood such as sea cucumbers and oysters with jasmine green tea, fish with longjin tea and chicken with ginseng tea. Of these, the duck turned out most spectacular. Here's what I did to make a tea infused duck.
Tea marinade :
8 cups of water
4 thick slices of ginger
3 star anise
1/2 cup of oolong tea leaves
1/4 cup thick soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 duck, gutted and cleaned
Bring all the ingredients above , except the honey, to a boil and steep for 30 minutes. Pour hot liquid into the honey and blend well. Cool thoroughly and use it as a marinade for a whole duck.
The following process can take at least half a day. Therefore, time must be allocated for this step.
To marinate the duck thoroughly, use a big plastic bag , place duck within and pour in liquid. Seal the bag and place it flat in a container. Chill the bag of duck with tea infusion for a couple of hours , after which the bag should be flipped over to ensure that the other side of the duck now gets marinated. Return duck to the chiller for another couple of hours.
Basting liquid :
Reserve a portion of the marinade, add 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce and some honey to thicken the basting sauce. If it is too watery, add some more hoisin sauce and cook it over low heat.
Roasting the duck :
Place a rack on an aluminum container that is big enough to contain the duck. Place duck over the rack and pour basting liquid over the duck. Cover the duck loosely with foil.
Roast the duck in an oven preheated to 200 C . Turn the duck over 30 minutes later and add some more basting liquid on the duck. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes. Duck is ready when the meat thermometer pierced into the duck thigh reads at least 180 C.
Let the roasted duck rest for 10 minutes before cutting. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the duck making it succulent.
Serve duck with a side dish of pink salt mixed with crushed oolong tea leaves.
Finally, if you happen to have leftovers, cut the duck to chunks and braise it in a fresh pot of oolong tea, leaves and all, with some soy sauce.It tastes just as good.