Tea Smoked Chicken in Lettuce Cups

My first time smoking anything! Used jasmine rice in a metal tiered steamer like in the photo below. It was quite an experience. A little on the scary side, but really exciting seeing what it really means to smoke something. I never thought of it, but over the stove it's like dry steaming something.

Prep Time: 30 min
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 16 min
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup white rice
3 tablespoon Chinese black tea
2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Shao-sing wine or medium-dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark (See Cook's Note)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 T brown sugar

5 scallions (white and green), thinly sliced
mint leaves, chiffoned (optional)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
Sriracha sauce or other Asian chili sauce, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Cool slightly, and then crush in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle with the salt and five-spice powder until very fine. Rub seasoned salt all over the chicken thighs. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Bring the chicken to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.

Line the bottom of a wok, skillet or heavy pot with a double layer of aluminum foil. Mix the rice, tea and brown sugar together and mound on the foil. Set a steamer on top, and evenly space the chicken on the rack. Cover and cook over high heat. Hot smoke the chicken until smokey-brown colored and cooked through, about 12 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, whisk the Shao-sing wine or sherry, soy, ginger, and sesame together in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes. Brush over cooked chicken.

To serve: Dice the chicken into very small pieces. Toss with the scallions and peanuts in a medium bowl. Cut the lettuce leaves into 40 squares or triangular scoops. Place a drop of Sriracha on top of each lettuce cup, and top with about 2 teaspoons of the diced chicken. Squeeze lime juice over the top, and drizzle the remaining soy-ginger sauce over the chicken. Serve.

Makes about 40 cups, from Foodnetwork.com

Can't tell, but the smoke under the lid was curling and churning in dark, threatening waves. SO FUN!

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