I think it’s no secret that I love to drink tea. When I’m craving a hot, soothing drink, but not a jolt of caffeine, green tea is definitely my beverage of choice.
Ito En had sent me some of their tea products to try, and I couldn’t wait to start experimenting with them in recipes! In the summer, I always get their bottled unsweetened teas (my favorite is the Teas’ Tea Unsweetened Green Jasmine) for a refreshing beverage on the go. I wasn’t aware that they also carry a huge collection of loose leaf teas on their website with many interesting twists on the traditional green teas. I brewed a pot of this yuzu sencha last night to enjoy while I was relaxing and reading. It has a pleasantly grassy aroma (which is characteristic of sencha, but not in an overwhelming kind of way) with a bright hint of citrus from the yuzu. The taste is smooth, flavorful, and very refreshing whether served hot or chilled over ice.
Brewing temperatures for different kinds of tea vary. Since this is a green tea, the water should be at around 176°F. The tea leaves should not be steeped for too long, otherwise the tea becomes bitter and astringent. Ito En recommends one teaspoon per six ounces, and an infusion time of two minutes.
I was looking for an alternative way to cook salmon, and decided to use the yuzu sencha to smoke the salmon with. Tea-smoking is an interesting cooking technique, and if you’ve never tried it, you’d be surprised by how easy it is and the amount of flavor the smoking ingredients impart to the fish. Because sencha is a green tea leaf, it’s not as overpowering as it would be if using black tea.
Green Tea Smoked Salmon
1 lb. salmon filet, center cut, skin removed (cut into two equal pieces)
¼ cup long-grain rice
7 oz (or about ¼ cup) green tea leaves
2 tbsps brown sugar
Brush both sides of salmon filet with vegetable oil and place the fish on a heat-safe dish. Set aside.
In a wok or pan fitted with a lid, line the bottom with aluminum foil. Combine rice, tea leaves, and sugar in a bowl and distribute evenly on the bottom of the wok. Cover with lid and preheat the wok over high heat until the mixture begins to smoke. Turn the heat down to low, place a cooking rack in the wok, and set the dish on top of the rack. Cover the wok with lid and allow the fish to smoke for 8 to 10 minutes, without turning, until the fish is just cooked through. Salmon should be brownish pink and medium rare. Serve hot with ginger soy sauce.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 stalks green scallion, green only, julienned
1 inch piece ginger, julienned
¼ cup fish soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
In a small saucepan, heat canola oil and cook scallion and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add soy sauce and mirin and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve.
*I used a soy sauce that comes pre-seasoned for dipping seafood. If you can’t find it in the supermarket, you can substitute with low-sodium soy sauce with the addition of one teaspoon of sugar and two tablespoons of sodium-free chicken stock.