The recipe that caught my attention was on page 40, from the Hong Kong/Kowloon area. Mr. Muessen says,
The Chinese use hickory, walnut, or other woods in smoking their meats just as we do, but another method, which gives an entirely different taste, is sugar smoking. This is best done in an outdoor covered barbecue, but it can be done in your oven, although one should have the exhaust fan on throughout.Sugar-Smoked Duck (or Chicken)
1 4-pound duck (or 3 pound chicken)
1 quart water
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
|Bird and first cooking ingredients|
6 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon anise seed powder
1 clove garlic, minced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
|Marinade and smoking ingredients|
When the meat is ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a large, ovenproof pot with foil and place a small rack inside. Add 1/2 of the sugar. Place the meat on the rack and cover the kettle with foil, then place a lid on tightly, forming a seal. Put the kettle in the oven for 10 minutes, and allow the sugar to burn and thus smoke.
Now remove the kettle and reline the pan if necessary, and add the remaining sugar. Reline the top of the kettle, and return to the oven to smoke for another 10 minutes. The meat should turn a rich mahogany color, and the sugar-smoke taste will have permeated the meat. Brush lightly with a little peanut oil and serve. Serves 4 - 6.
I used a chicken and let the bird slowly cook for about 1 hour, 30 minutes over the lowest heat my stove top could give.
It came out of the liquid (which was later turned into lentil soup!) and into a bowl where it cooled to the point where I could handle it. I cut it into twelve pieces total and that seemed just fine. Then the pieces went into a flat-bottom dish.
For the marinade I used freshly ground star anise seeds, canola oil, sweet cream sherry, fresh garlic, and low sodium soy sauce. I poured it over the meat, then turned the pieces over and started the timer. After 30 minutes I turned the pieces over again to marinate for another 30 minutes.
Once the hour marinating time was up, I drained off the marinade and put the meat into the refrigerator.
My neighbor had kindly agreed to get his barbecue hot for my grand experiment. He used lump charcoal and heated the barbecue to 375 degrees F.
In the meantime I formed two trays out of foil, putting in about 1/4 cup (unpacked) of brown sugar into the bottom of each one.
We smoked the meat this way: I put the chicken on the grills, he pushed the grills apart to expose the coals, and I put the foil tray directly on the coals. Then he slid the grills together, closed the lid, and vented the top just a little bit.
|First smoking, preturning.|
|First smoking, some turned.|
|First smoking, nearly all turned|
While the second smoking was going on, we looked at the first tray. The sugar had completely carbonized and was nearly odorless and tasteless. Yes, we tasted it and found no flavor but there was a texture that made me think I was eating dirt. Ugh! I don't recommend it.
|Do not eat this at home. Or anywhere else!|
|Beautiful in looks and in taste.|
Let's put it this way: I tentatively nibbled the first piece (I was worried it would have a burnt flavor) and then enthusiastically devoured it. And a few more pieces. Oh yes, I remembered to eat the salad and bread, too!
The flavor was amazing. I couldn't say exactly what part was the sugar smoking and what part was the marinade but the overall taste combination was excellent. I had hints of the anise, some lovely bitter from the soy and sherry, and a rich umami in every bite. The meat was moist, even the breast meat which I usually dislike because it tends to be dry.
I would do it again and my taste testers agreed they would enjoy it again, too. After the meat is cooked and marinated, it was very easy and quick to get it smoked.
As I was
Success! Oh my yes, success. Excellent and flavorful and a great, fun, and intriguing food to serve at a party.