Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Smoking in the House, Please.

I did not bring this smoking ban from Singapore. Neither was it imposed on my hand-rolled cigarette, a habit which I have given up 20 years ago. But it was banned ever since the smoke alarm was triggered off by my experiment on smoking foods in the kitchen. Like most Singaporeans, having smoked food is not part of our traditional culinary inheritance, I didn't acquire this taste from eating canape`s or finger food of smoked salmon, oyster and mussel from a platter and sipping glasses of champagne at business functions or cocktail parties. But I learned eating smoked food when I was working in the remote forest of Papua New Guinea.
Smoking is a process of preserving meat and fish that has been in place for centuries to the Papua New Guineans. They often travel afar to fish or hunt for food and such trips may take them away for days before they can bring back their hunt to feed their families at the village.To prepare for the long trip home, they smoked their hunt in order to preserve the fish or animals such as tree kangaroos, wild boars and cassowaries ( a large three toed bird which is almost as large as an ostrich and cannot fly). Nowadays, smoking for preservation is still common in Papua New Guinea where transportation is limited and the humid and hot equatorial climate impacts upon food life cycles.
Coming from a place where smoking was once necessary to preserve food, I now used more often to simply provide a pleasant mild smoky flavour or something of a delicacy, instead. Here is a recipe where I used a wok to smoke this meat and chicken for a recent dinner party to cater to the taste of some bourgeois friends from Singapore.
You will need a wok (preferably an old wok only to be used for smoking food hereafter), lots of aluminum foil, a cake rack, and a smoking mixture of 1/2 cup of raw rice, 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of tea leaves, 2 sticks cinnamon, 4 strips of dried mandarin rind, and 2 star anise.

Tea Leaves Smoked Meat, Chicken and Duck Recipe:


Marinate the meat with 2 tbsp of soya sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of dry sherry or rice wine and salt and pepper for at least 1 hour.
Line a 12-14 inch wok with aluminum foil, allowing 4 inches of overhang
Put smoking mixture in the bottom of the wok
Set a 10 inch cake rack about 3 inches above the smoking mixture, put a piece of foil on the rack and arrange the food to be smoked on it in a single layer.
Sprinkle some hot black tea or water into the bottom of the lined wok, this will allow the material to smoke rather than burn.
Place cover on the wok, crimp the excess foil around the lid to completely seal the wok and to prevent steam from escaping
Turn the heat to high, smoke for 20 minutes then turn off the heat and leave for another 10 minutes.

Open the kitchen window and turn the exhaust fan on high. If possible cook outside in the veranda or balcony but even then, it may cause your neighbour to ring the Fire Department.


  1. Hi, it's a very great blog.
    I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
    Keep doing.

  2. Hi Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble,
    Thanks for your visit and your kind encouragement. BTW, I have bookmarked your site as my teen Son is in the "guitar phase" of his life. :) Even our food could not entice him out of his guitar playing in his room

  3. Hi OTGE,
    Hope you'd perform in Sydney, Australia one day!