Xiaguan BBQ Chicken recipe experiments

Puerh and other heicha
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:45 am

2008 Xiaguan "Dream of the Red Chamber" Raw Pu-erh:

Image

I have been trying in earnest to understand the heavy mesquite flavors of this tea.

Now I think it might help make my chicken taste better as a liquid smoke replacement.

Image

This is the tea in my spice blender. I mixed in some cumin, coriander seed, paprika, and chili powder.

Image

I used around 1g tea/25g chicken.

Image

Cover the thigh.

Image

You don't want sheng chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side.

Image

I used a little rice wine to deglaze the pan.

Image

The chicken qi was actually present and quite energetic. The flavor was not as smoky as I expected.

Next time I will use the prepared tea as a marinade to see if that helps.

Day 2

I am currently waiting for the prepared tea to cool down so I can use it as a marinade.

See day 2's details in this post

I posted the first series of images on the r/puer subreddit yesterday, but I've been meaning to sign up for this forum for a while. I think this format also fits better as a place to experiment with different cooking methods within a single thread.

I got a great suggestion over there to try using a meat syringe to inject the tea, which I'll try as the third pass.

Code: Select all

Original imgur album: https://imgur.com/a/dw5lkMd
Cross post from: https://www.reddit.com/r/puer/comments/dllvic/xiaguan_bbq_chicken_photos/
Last edited by powersnacks on Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
pedant
Admin
Posts: 830
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:35 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:16 pm

awesome, thanks for sharing this. i have never seen something like that before. 👏

i'm wondering how much of a flavor impact the tea makes with such powerful spices present. do you think, aside from smoke, you got much tea flavor?

if you also happen to be wondering this yourself, maybe try cooking two pieces side by side. identical seasonings except one without tea.

hmm, which shengs have the most potential in bbq? could an incense-y, resinous, semi-aged sheng be a good rub?
i'm imagining a dry brined pork butt rubbed with 2/3 sheng 1/3 black pepper.
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:55 pm

pedant wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:16 pm
awesome, thanks for sharing this. i have never seen something like that before. 👏

i'm wondering how much of a flavor impact the tea makes with such powerful spices present. do you think, aside from smoke, you got much tea flavor?

if you also happen to be wondering this yourself, maybe try cooking two pieces side by side. identical seasonings except one without tea.

hmm, which shengs have the most potential in bbq? could an incense-y, resinous, semi-aged sheng be a good rub?
i'm imagining a dry brined pork butt rubbed with 2/3 sheng 1/3 black pepper.
Thanks for the feedback pedant. I am also interested in this experiment's outcomes.

You are correct regarding the strength of the other spices -- they are too strong. I am ready to post the results of the second experiment later tonight, but basically, I need to only use tea. I ended up with another experiment where the other flavors were overpowering.

I like your proposal for 2 pieces at once, I think I will do that next instead of the syringe.

Right now I am focusing on this tea because of the smoke flavor more than the tea flavor. It would be very interesting to try this with a different sheng (or even a shou) as well. For now, this experiment is also nice because I am using up this tuo that I am not enjoying :D I wonder how shou on a piece of beef would taste.

I will say that so far, the cha qi is still present in the chicken. At least, I have never felt this way after eating chicken normally. I originally ordered this tuo a while ago when I was searching for cheaper teas with strong qi. The description on YS's site mentioned the strong qi so I got it. Qi laced chicken.

Regarding potential shengs for BBQ, it would be great to see someone else try this with access to a BBQ. If I repeat the dry-rub experiment, I will try to bake/broil the chicken instead of saute. On a good day, I did taste notes of sandalwood in this tea -- so I am hoping that incense-y flavor comes through. It is funny to think of what a young sheng would do -- bitter chicken.
Chadrinkincat
Posts: 399
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:16 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Wed Oct 23, 2019 3:42 pm

Interesting experiment!

Might work well as a dipping sauce. Boiled tea instead of coffee for red eye gravy.
User avatar
Victoria
Admin
Posts: 1712
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:33 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Contact:

Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:26 pm

This interesting topic reminded me of a pu’erh paste @EarthMonkey made last year here in LA. He posted about it at LATS. He boils the pu’erh and strains it for a long time, making a pasty reduction to be used in soups, stews, sauces etc.

and here is a good video of pu’erh paste being made;

88401CFE-579D-4A04-9904-254C93CF1B60.jpeg
88401CFE-579D-4A04-9904-254C93CF1B60.jpeg (191.64 KiB) Viewed 402 times
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:38 pm

Day 2 experiment failure log

Today was a failed attempt at marinading the chicken with tea.

Everything worked fine, but I made a poor fusion chicken teriyaki. I did not get smoke or flavor.

Image

I am keeping this post shorter because I'm more focused on tomorrow's attempt.

Image

I brewed this tea as I normally would: gongfu-style with short steeps. I made 3 steeps and poured them all into a larger style mug.

I used my porcelain gaiwan to keep the flavor as true as possible. Then I let this tea cool down to room temperature before pouring it into a bag with the kitchen.

My three-legged good luck teapet makes a cameo in the background.

Image

I originally intended to only marinade the chicken in tea.

But before I closed the bag, I thought I'd add soy sauce for salt. In my head, this would help the marinade.

Then I worried that it would be too weird of a taste on it's own, so I added mirin, sake, and a drop of sesame seed oil to the bag. It was basically a sugarless teriyaki marinade.

Image

Chicken after 4 hours of marinading. Letting it come up to room temperature while making rice.

Image

I added rice to the mix after I realized I was making sheng teriyaki.

Image

I cut up some garlic and ginger in chunks, embracing the future.

Image

Here I can see that the marinade did make the chicken smoother on the inside at least. I chopped it up to mix into the rice. Just a personal preference.

Image

It didn't taste right because I didn't have any sweetness in the sauce and was missing some other elements. To save the dish, I added furikake and soy sauce. It tasted fine then.

I didn't taste much in the chicken, but it was very hard to tell. I couldn't tell if it tasted like teriyaki that was missing ingredients, or puerh teriyaki.

The cha qi was still present! It is very peculiar to finish a meal and feel as though you've had a few steeps of a powerful sheng.

For tomorrow's third attempt, I'm following pedant's suggestion of brewing two pieces next to each other. This is a more direct approach and should be good for establishing a baseline.

Code: Select all

https://imgur.com/a/uiyX6Wr
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:39 pm

Chadrinkincat wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 3:42 pm
Interesting experiment!

Might work well as a dipping sauce. Boiled tea instead of coffee for red eye gravy.
I really like this idea. I will try it soon if someone else doesn't beat me to it
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:43 pm

Victoria wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:26 pm
This interesting topic reminded me of a pu’erh paste EarthMonkey made last year here in LA. He posted about it at LATS. He boils the pu’erh and strains it for a long time, making a pasty reduction to be used in soups, stews, sauces etc.

and here is a good video of pu’erh paste being made;
<snip>
This is so fascinating @Victoria! I love this and will watch this video as well. I haven't tried reducing a tea yet. It sounds a bit more involved but I love the comparison to Worcestershire sauce! That sounds actually lovely.

I would love to hear more details about this @EarthMonkey if you have the time :D

edit: I am also very curious if something similar could be achieved using cha gao paste cubes? It sounds less daunting than waiting for tea to reduce
swordofmytriumph
Posts: 350
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2018 5:19 am
Location: Seattle, USA

Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:08 am

I'm wondering if you might have better results with a blend for your chicken. Perhaps try a puerh/lapsang souchong blend? Maybe two parts puerh and one part lapsang souchong, so the lapsang doesn't overwhelm the puerh flavors, but you get more smoke.

Edit:
Also, @EarthMonkey, what is your recipe for the puerh reduction?
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:28 pm

swordofmytriumph wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:08 am
I'm wondering if you might have better results with a blend for your chicken. Perhaps try a puerh/lapsang souchong blend? Maybe two parts puerh and one part lapsang souchong, so the lapsang doesn't overwhelm the puerh flavors, but you get more smoke.
This is a good question. I don't have any lapsang souchong on hand to try this with. But it has given me an excuse to get some :D I did swing by my local Asian supermarket to see if I could pick something up quickly in the meantime but to no luck.

I'll give this a shot in a while. Do you have a recommended vendor for lapsang souchong?
User avatar
powersnacks
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Location: New Jersey

Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:38 pm

Third experiment - Simple marinade vs no marinade

For this, I marinaded 1 chicken thigh in the tea liquor for 12 hours. I also cooked a control-thigh with it to compare.

You can see that the tea has stained the chicken (control on the right)

Image

I cooked both very plainly to reduce the chance of other flavors taking over. This is just some light salt and pepper. (control on the right)

Image

My notes:

The chickens were very similar. The control thigh tasted like the essence of chicken with no extra flavor, and just enough salt and pepper to be interesting.

The tea-thigh had the most subtle hint of sheng. Honestly it felt like someone was whispering "puer" to me as I ate it. A very light background taste a vegetal bitterness and a more general "tea" flavor. Any nuance of the Xiaguan smoke in this tuocha was lost.

I've mentioned it several times now, but the energy in the chicken is so surprising to me.

I went to wash the dishes quickly after finishing my meal and had a simple moment of "whoah" with a little floatiness in my head. The chicken didn't taste THAT good :D So I do believe the marinade would be a way of making your chicken seem incredible to guests.

I think the next logical step is some kind of concentrate. I am sad that the smoke flavor hasn't come through yet. Perhaps baking would be good.
User avatar
pedant
Admin
Posts: 830
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:35 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:03 am

powersnacks wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:38 pm
Third experiment - Simple marinade vs no marinade

For this, I marinaded 1 chicken thigh in the tea liquor for 12 hours. I also cooked a control-thigh with it to compare.

...

The tea-thigh had the most subtle hint of sheng.
even though you didn't get much tea flavor, it still looks delicious. my compliments to the chef.

imo, this is kind of an expected result though.

even though you gave it 12 hours, it might as well have been 12 minutes as far as the tea flavor's concerned.
meat is not as permeable as some people think, so a lot of marinade methodology is flawed.

really, the only things that do anything over time in marinades are salts and acids. salts will readily permeate meat, so brining can do a lot for taste and tenderness/juiciness. it denatures proteins, making meat softer and also increasing water weight. acids also denature proteins, but for most, the effect is more localized at the surface. there are some other exceptions like bromelain in fresh pineapple, which is a protease (breaks down and softens protein). some seafood can be more permeable, but for most meats, things like sugars, allicin (garlic flavor chemical), herbs, and other flavorings don't do much. applying them as a sauce just before or during cooking should give the same result. therefore, i like to make marinades out of a limited number of cheap ingredients that actually do something, and then i use the other seasonings in more limited quantity during (or even after) the cooking. ends up being less wasteful since you can't re-use the already-used marinade for much as it was in contact with raw meat. left over non-marinade sauce can even be used for extra flavor after cooking.

so with that said, i think the most realistic ways to get tea flavor in there are rubs (like in your first experiment) or reduction sauces. injecting the tea sauce can amp it up even more.
powersnacks wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:45 am
Image

This is the tea in my spice blender. I mixed in some cumin, coriander seed, paprika, and chili powder.
i have the same spice grinder, lol. i sharpied "no coffee! spices only!" on the lid.
EarthMonkey
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 1:56 pm

Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:39 am

I have the Dream of the Red Chamber, XG. I think it's '08. It's horrible. Tastes like ashtray.

For tea paste/chagao it doesn't matter what you do. Just take a bunch of tea and start boiling away. Once you feel you've extracted enough, remove leaves. Wring them out, placing the reserve back in the pot and keep cooking. Stir as it gets thicker to prevent sticking. When it's ready pour out onto a sheet of wax paper. Cook leaves second time, as first cooking will be supersaturated solution that will not release all the stuff. This last point involves combining second brew with first before reducing it all down.

1123 Is my ratio of ripe-to-raw-to-yabao.

mod edit:
11:2:3 ripe:raw:yabao
this is like 11:5 (~2:1) ripe:raw if you lump yabao in with the raw


I have a straight raw paste I made. I placed it in a pan with water and some dried basil and steamed some spaghetti squash. The house smelled heavenly. The squash had a light floral note. I've had occasion to use ripe san cha in clay pot chicken with good but unnoticeable results in terms of taste, but did notice a layer of oil at the top of the pot which seems to point to raw's ability to cut fat. The Worcestershire sauce idea cam from another chagao formula that included dried longgan. It might be more akin to hoisen than the aforementioned, given the sweetness. However, the consistency and astringency are nothing like either. I suspect that depending upon one's selection of meat or vegetables will shape the overall effect-- to state the obvious. I don't think normally infused tea is sufficiently potent to affect taste per the chicken study above.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by pedant on Sat Oct 26, 2019 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: mod edit: clarified recipe ratio
User avatar
pedant
Admin
Posts: 830
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:35 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:53 am

awesome! thanks for sharing. i have to try that.
EarthMonkey wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:39 am
1123 Is my ratio of ripe-to-raw-to-yabao.
but i don't understand the ratio. i see 4 numbers but only 3 things. :?:
swordofmytriumph
Posts: 350
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2018 5:19 am
Location: Seattle, USA

Sat Oct 26, 2019 7:38 am

powersnacks wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:28 pm
I'll give this a shot in a while. Do you have a recommended vendor for lapsang souchong?
Lol, actually, lapsang souchong is one of the few teas I don’t actually like. I’m sure that’s because I haven’t had any of the good stuff, I’m not really one to ask. :lol:
Post Reply